x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Virender Sehwag feels for bowlers after 533-run feast

'Twenty20 is like that,' says the Delhi Daredevils captain whose 77 helps his team to a 29-run victory over the fighting Kings XI Punjab.

David Warner, the Delhi Daredevils opening batsman, right, on his way to a well-crafted 77 against Kings XI Punjab yesterday.
David Warner, the Delhi Daredevils opening batsman, right, on his way to a well-crafted 77 against Kings XI Punjab yesterday.

The pressure had been on Virender Sehwag to find his form for the Delhi Daredevils after a spluttering start to the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Big things had been expected of the Indian opener, who had shone at the World Cup, but an average of 18 from four games was not what Delhi and their supporters had in mind from their captain.

He came back strongly last night, and in style, a swashbuckling 77 off 35 balls to help Delhi get the better of Kings XI Punjab in a high-scoring encounter.

A delighted Sehwag said: "It was a good wicket to bat on, the ball comes nicely on to the bat. It is hard on the bowlers, Twenty20 is like that."

Sehwag and David Warner, who also hit 77, put on 146 for the first wicket as they racked up a score of 231 for four - the highest score in this year's tournament.

Bowling first after winning the toss, Punjab were reduced to mere spectators as they watched one of the most destructive opening batting performance unfolded before them.

It was a run-feast at Delhi, which surprisingly offered pace, as both Sehwag and Warner punished the bowlers with disdain and put on 100 by ninth over.

By then Warner had brought up his 50 off 29 balls with the help of three sixes and six fours. Sehwag reached the mark a couple of overs later but one fewer than Warner took.

While both men fell short of their hundreds, they had set the groundwork for a huge total.

Chasing 232 for victory, Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh kept Punjab in the hunt even though Paul Valthaty (14) fell early

The Australian pair added 72 off just 39 balls but Varun Aaron bowled Gilchrist for 42 off 33 balls through the gate to bring Delhi back into the game.

Marsh, however, was unmoved by the departures of Gilchrist and the new man Dinesh Karthik, and brought up his 50 off just 27 balls as Punjab reached 127 for three after 13 overs.

Marsh and Hussey had to score 94 off the last six overs to pull off an unlikely victory, but with boundaries and sixes not coming on a regular basis the target appeared increasingly unreachable.

Hussey (20 off 10), who hit the first ball of the 16th over for a massive six, holed out to Sehwag from the very next ball, bringing Abhishek Nayar to the middle.

Marsh's fourth six brought the requirement down to 71 off 24 balls and the Australian hit another six and a boundary off Ajit Agarkar, which meant Punjab needed 56 off the last three overs.

Marsh quickly moved to 95 off 45 balls with a six off Morne Morkel, but the hopes of an upset were dashed with the next ball when Marsh played one straight to Sehwag, who gleefully completed his third catch of the evening. That effectively ended the game as a contest as Punjab finished on 202 for six.

Warner was voted man of the match, and he echoed Sehwag's view that it had been a perfect surface for batting on.

"It was a good wicket, similar as home. You back yourself, hit the distance. I have had to learn my game a bit in the IPL."

Gilchrist, the Punjab captain, said: "It was an exciting day for the crowd, it was a belter, and there were short boundaries. Two or three little things we did wrong, and this is where Delhi hurts us."