New Delhi: Normal service was restored for Delhi Daredevils who followed up an excellent run-chase two nights ago with another sloppy batting performance that formed the basis of their seventh defeat in eight matches. Given first use of a sluggish Feroz Shah Kotla surface on Tuesday evening, the hosts made 120 for 7 which Kings XI Punjab chased down for the loss of five wickets to pocket their fourth win of the season.
Punjab's victory was fashioned by their bowlers, in particular medium-pacer Harmeet Singh who marked his first appearance of the season with three wickets to stall Delhi's lukewarm innings. Delhi's problems started as early as the fourth ball of their innings when Mahela Jayawardene edged Praveen Kumar to slip for 4. The next blow came as the experiment of sending Roelof van der Merwe in at No. 3 failed, the South African allrounder playing an ugly hoick to cover off Parvinder Awana in the fourth over. Virender Sehwag pulled off a few stunning shots but then fell softly for 23, scooping to a diving Mandeep Singh at extra cover off Harmeet. As was the case during Delhi's first six matches, the top order had failed to fire.
The rest of the innings was a series of fits and starts as Delhi heaved their way to 120 for 7. Harmeet picked up Manprit Juneja (14) and Kedar Jhadav (0) in a telling double-wicket 14th over, and Johan Botha (1) did his team no favors by slicing left-arm spinner Bharghav Bhatt to long-off five deliveries later. David Warner made 40 with some punchy shots but a superb yorker from Praveen cut him off before he could really do damage, and Delhi found the boundary just once in the last 16 balls.
In reply, Punjab suffered the obligatory early wicket as skipper Adam Gilchrist (6) top-edged the third ball from Irfan Pathan to extra cover. That was followed by a flurry of shots as Mandeep clattered five boundaries in six balls - three in a row off Ashish Nehra - and Luke Pomersbach two in two to take the score to 40 for 1 in three overs. Of those, 19 had come off Irfan's second over.
Two quick strikes gave Delhi some lift. Pomersbach, one of three changes to the Punjab XI, struck 18 off ten balls before he missed a heave at van der Merwe and was bowled; off the next ball, a direct hit from Warner ran out Mandeep. The fourth to fall was Manan Vohra for 9, top-edging a big shot back to Botha in the tenth over.
At this stage Punjab were ahead of the asking rate by some distance, and so David Miller (34*) and David Hussey (20) did not need to do anything drastic as they knocked off 40 of the required 51 runs. Hussey fell 11 short of the finish line looking to collect the second six of the innings, but Miller stayed cool. The win took the team's points tally to eight, a cushion of six over last-placed Delhi as the half-way mark of IPL 6 beckons.