Mahela Jayawardene struck an unbeaten half-century as Delhi Daredevils beat Kings XI Punjab by five wickets to become the first team to reach the Indian Premier League play-offs. The Sri Lankan batsman hit 56 not out and shared in a sixth-wicket partnership of 58 with Irfan Pathan (19) as the home side defeated their play-off rivals.
Jayawardene hit eight fours in his 49-ball innings and was well supported by Naman Ojha (34) and Pathan as the Daredevils scored 140 for five with one over to spare.
Parvinder Awana was the best of the Kings XI bowlers with three wickets for 22 runs.
The pace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron had earlier combined to take five wickets to help restrict Punjab to 136-8 at Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium.
"There was little movement for the fast bowlers, Varun and Umesh bowled beautifully, took early wickets and put pressure on Kings XI," said the Delhi captain Virender Sehwag.
An unbeaten 40 from David Hussey was the sole bright spot for the Kings XI as they lost wickets at regular intervals.
Jayawardene added 48 with Ojha, helping Delhi recover from 37-4 in the sixth over - and the loss of big-hitting David Warner and Sehwag- before seeing his side over the line. "We were expecting that Mahela could play until the end and finish the game," Sehwag said.
"It is difficult to go in and play your shots; he took his time."
Kings XI Punjab need to win both remaining games, against Delhi and Chennai Super Kings, to have a chance of qualifying.
"We fought the game out really well," said Hussey, the Punjab captain. "Full credit to Irfan and Mahela. Delhi are a very talented team."
Meanwhile, Five cricketers were suspended by India officials yesterday following a sting operation that showed them either agreeing to spot-fixing in domestic games or to negotiate Indian Premier League contracts, which was disallowed.
The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced provisional suspensions on TP Sudhindra, Shalabh Srivastava, Mohnish Mishra, Amit Yadav and Abhinav Bali after watching the sting performed by the news channel India TV.
The BCCI also named the former head of the ICC anti-corruption unit, Ravi Sawani, to hold an inquiry that will look into “the involvement of players in illegal activities or activities against the interests of the BCCI and the game”.
The TV sting involved reporters posing as agents of a sports management firm offering players money to perform in a certain way at specific times in the match.
The channel showed Sudhindra, who plays for Deccan Chargers in the IPL, allegedly bowling a no-ball in a local Twenty20 game in the central Indian city of Indore for US$1,000 (Dh3,670).
Pictures captured by a hidden camera appeared to show Sudhindra agreeing to bowl a no-ball with his second delivery of the game. Broadcaster India TV then showed video of the game in which Sudhindra bowls a no-ball by well over a foot at the predetermined time.
Though the video does not show Sudhindra agreeing to fix an IPL game, the channel did play out a purported telephone conversation with Srivastava of Kings XI Punjab agreeing to bowl a no-ball in the IPL.
Srivastava, who did not get to play in the IPL this season, denied the allegations. “This is a false allegation and I will definitely file a case” against India TV, Srivastava told the NDTV news channel. “They have video clippings of me in other conversations, but why is it that they don’t have a video of me demanding money for spot-fixing in IPL? Why is that only an audio clipping?”
India TV also showed some players claiming IPL teams lure players by offering them more money than allowed under tournament rules with undeclared transactions.
Pune Warriors player Mishra and Kings XI Punjab’s Yadav were shown apparently agreeing to negotiate with other teams in the IPL, which is not allowed under tournament rules. The Delhi player Bali, who does not play in the IPL, was shown in the sting operation as claiming that such negotiations are common practice.
The allegations come within days of the BCCI announcing plans to set up its own anti-corruption unit.
A similar undercover sting by the defunct British tabloid The News of the World led to prison sentences last year for the Pakistan players Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir after they conspired to bowl no-balls at predetermined times in a test in England in 2010.