Katich's parting gift for Kings XI

Simon Katich took the battle to the Delhi Daredevils' camp with a blistering 75.-AKHILESH KUMAR

The victory against Delhi Daredevils has turned Kings XI into a serious contender for a semifinal berth. And the man responsible for this was Simon Katich. Rakesh Rao reports.

A second victory in less than 48 hours for Kings XI Punjab was just what the large crowd at the PCA Stadium wanted. Having lost two matches, the Punjab team gained some momentum by overpowering Mumbai Indians on April 25. Then on April 27, Kings XI defeated Delhi Daredevils and placed itself among the serious contenders for a semifinal spot in the Indian Premier League.

The man who made it possible for Kings XI was opener Simon Katich. Playing in his second and last match of the competition, the Australian took the battle to the Delhi camp with an attacking 75, which made it easy for skipper Yuvraj Singh to finish the job with four wickets to spare.

After Delhi Daredevils set a none-too-formidable target of 159, it needed early wickets. Glenn McGrath and his new-ball partner Mohammad Asif struck early blows to reduce Punjab to 11 for two. With Kumar Sangakkara, the Man of the Match against Mumbai, out cheaply, Delhi had reasons to rejoice, but it had not reckoned with the barrage of strokes that flowed from Katich’s bat.

Katich, who along with Brett Lee left India the following day to join the Australian team for a preparatory camp ahead of its tour of the West Indies, made the most of the opportunity. He made his intentions clear by smashing two successive boundaries off his former team-mate McGrath before belting Asif for three fours in a row.

In McGrath’s next over, Katich again smashed two consecutive boundaries. This onslaught sent Delhi Daredevils on the backfoot and it never looked like stopping Punjab that day.

After Katich’s dismissal, Yuvraj held the centre stage with an unbeaten 40 and finished the job with a boundary off Shoaib Malik in the 20th over.

Delhi Daredevils, which won its first two matches by whopping nine-wicket margins, chose to bat first for the first time in the competition. Somewhat spoilt by the success of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Shikhar Dhawan, Delhi struggled once the three fell cheaply. The untested middle-order, comprising Shoaib Malik, Manoj Tiwary, Dinesh Karthik and Rajat Bhatia, failed to make the most of the opportunity in ideal batting conditions.

Of the Punjab bowlers, V. R. V. Singh took three wickets. He gained largely as the Delhi batsmen opted to give him the charge. On the other hand, Sreesanth’s IPL nightmare continued as he was hit for 25 runs in two overs.

The Scores

Kings XI Punjab v Delhi Daredevils, PCA Stadium, Mohali, April 27, 2008.

Result: Kings XI Punjab won by four wickets.

Delhi Daredevils 158 for eight in 20 overs (M. Tiwary 39, D. Karthik 24, Irfan Pathan 2-26, V. R. V. Singh 3-29) lost to Kings XI Punjab 162 for six in 19.3 overs (S. Katich 75, Yuvraj Singh 40 not out, M. Asif 2-39).