Pune: Before their home fans - who turned out in good numbers at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium on Sunday afternoon - Pune Warriors prevailed in the battle of the basement-dwellers, leaving Delhi Daredevils to hold the IPL 6 wooden spoon. In a match of no real significance, Pune pipped their visitors by 38 runs but the win will overall ring hollow because as in 2011 and 2012, the team massively overwhelmed despite its mammoth price tag.
Pune were coasting on the back of Aaron Finch's rollicking half-century until two wickets for the addition of five runs stalled the innings and allowed Delhi to think of keeping the hosts to under 150. But Luke Wright (44 from 23 balls) and Angelo Mathews (30* off 20) showed their mettle with a 71-run stand in just 37 deliveries that boosted the total to 172 for 5. In defence of a strong total, Pune found excellent production from left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza who pegged Delhi back with three early strikes and Mathews who grabbed three wickets at the death.
On a solid batting track, Pune's openers briefly threatened to put on a strong partnership as their final act of the season. Robin Uthappa (24) led the early aggression with some crisp drives and flicks before he scooped a full delivery from Umesh Yadav to David Warner at point in the sixth over to end an alliance of 38 in 5.1 overs. After a lull, Finch attacked Yadav in his next over, lofting and pulling sixes to the leg side and then perforating the gap at extra-cover with a teasing cover drive for four. Manish Pandey tried to emulate Finch and managed a six off Irfan Pathan, but a soft shot against left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem saw the ball sneak into the exposed stumps.
Finch continued undeterred, putting Irfan away over and through square leg for six and four en route to a half-century in 31 balls. His dismissal came against the run of play, as a tame shot lobbed up to short midwicket where Virender Sehwag dived to hold a good catch. Moments later, Sehwag took a much simpler catch as Yuvraj Singh (3) made a mess of an attempted slap over extra cover. Those two wickets snapped Pune's momentum briefly, but Wright and Mathews flexed their muscles in the last five overs which yielded 65 runs.
A top-edged six off Morne Morkel got Mathews going while Wright saved hit the tall South African quick for three fours. Yadav's last over - the 19th - bled 24 as Mathews swung six over long-on followed by Wright slugging a six and two fours; off the last, Mathews was dropped in the deep by Irfan. Siddarth Kaul did well to conceded just eight runs off the last over while getting Wright caught at deep midwicket, but 173 proved too much for Delhi to haul down.
Both Warner and Mahela Jayawardene were given lives inside the Powerplay but neither made an impression. Warner (2) feathered a thin edge behind off Wayne Parnell and Jayawardene (14) cut Murtaza to point. After hinting at something special, Sehwag (11) and Bharat Chipli (16) departed with the score on 55 to really extinguish Delhi's hopes. Sehwag recklessly swiped out to deep cover and off the very next delivery played back to a quick delivery from Murtaza. After two overs, Murtaza had 2 for 5.
Ben Rohrer's stay too was brief, as he cannoned a big bottom edge off Ashok Dinda soon after, leaving Delhi to chase 109 from 63 deliveries. Irfan (24) and wicketkeeper CM Gautam (30) delayed the inevitable with a 54-run stand that spanned seven overs, and Mathews capped a good match with three wickets in his last two overs as the chase fizzled out. If Mathews had shown such fine all-round skills earlier in the tournament, Pune may have finished better than second from last.