He did not quite upstage Yusuf Pathan's pyrotechnics in Mumbai, but Gautam Gambhir played a sparkling knock in Mohali to guide the Delhi Daredevils to a five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab yesterday. Gambhir, unlike the Rajasthan Royals' Pathan, was not chasing a towering score as his bowlers, led by the lightning-quick Dirk Nannes (two for 12), had restric-ted the home side to 142 for nine - 70 less than the Mumbai Indians' total in the first game of the day.
Still, the Daredevils captain had as challenging a task after losing Virender Sehwag and Tillakaratane Dilshan in the second over of the run chase. But he paced himself brilliantly, stroking a match-winning 72 to take his team across the line. The visitors could have been chasing a smaller score had it not been for Ravi Bopara's battling 56. The England all-rounder was forced to check his exuberance after watching four of his top-order partners depart with just 44 on board.
Eschewing all risks, he added 60 for the fifth wicket with Irfan Pathan to lend some respectability to the score. But 142 was never going to be a challenging target for a batting line-up that Daredevils boast. Shanthakumaran Sreesanth claimed the key wickets of Sehwag and Dilshan in his first over, but Gambhir was in no mood to start his tenure as captain with a defeat. As wickets kept falling at the other end, he stayed resolute until falling in the final over. But the Daredevils needed just three runs from the last four balls and they did it with one to spare. In the earlier match, Mumbai Indians survived a brutal Pathan onslaught to beat Rajasthan Royals by four runs.
Meanwhile, Sourav Ganguly, the Kolkata Knight Riders captain, is seeking a major lift in the team's performance on the field against the Royal Challengers Bangalore today, after a ragged show in the 11- run win over Deccan Chargers on Friday. "We've got some improvements to make, fielding is such an area," said Ganguly, who will also have to speed up his team's over-rate after being fined US$20,000 (Dh73,000) for being slow in the opening match. The Chargers will be looking to put the disappointment of their defeat behind them when they travel to Chennai tonight for a battle against the star-studded Chennai Super Kings. firstname.lastname@example.org
Kings XI Punjab: Ravi Bopara c Manhas b Mahesh 56 Manvinder Bisla run out (Manhas) 2 Kumar Sangakkara c Sangwan b Maharoof 17 Yuvraj Singh c Gambhir b Maharoof 4 Mahela Jayawardene c Karthik b Sangwan 0 Irfan Pathan st Karthik b Dilshan 21 Mohammad Kaif st Karthik b Mishra 6 Piyush Chawla c Maharoof b Nannes 5 Ramesh Powar b Nannes 3 Sreesanth not out 15 Yusuf Abdulla not out Extras (lb 8, w 5) 13 Total (for nine wickets in 20 overs) 142 Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-39, 3-44, 4-44, 5-104, 6-113, 7-113, 8-116, 9-132 Bowling: Dirk Nannes 4-0-12-2 Farveez Maharoof 4-0-37-2 Pradeep Sangwan 4-0-32-1 Amit Mishra 4-0-23-1 Yo Mahesh 3-0-23-1 Tillekaratne Dilshan 1-0-7-1 Delhi Daredevils: Gautam Gambhir c Jayawardene b Pathan 72 Virender Sehwag c Jayawardene b Sreesanth 8 Tillekaratne Dilshan c Bisla b Sreesanth 0 AB de Villiers run out (Jayawardene/Chawla) 7 Dinesh Karthik c Pathan b Abdulla 20 Mitun Manhas not out 31 Farveez Maharoof not out 1 Extras (lb 5, w 2) 7 Total (for five wickets in 19.5 overs) 146 Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-10, 3-45, 4-79, 5-140 Bowling: Irfan Pathan 3.5-0-27-1 Sreesanth 4-0-24-2 Yusuf Abdulla 4-0-30-1 Piyush Chawla 4-0-33-0 Yuvraj Singh 3-0-11-0 Ramesh Powar 1-0-16-0