Rain favours Punjab

Mahela Jayawardene, the man of the match, and Luke Pomersbach did enough to get Punjab past the Duckworth/Lewis cut-off mark.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

"How can you fight rain?" asked an exasperated Sehwag. He had lost a match that he had so superbly swung his team�s way with some sensational hitting in the first half, writes Vijay Lokapally.

The disorganised structure of the Ferozeshah Kotla rubbed off on the Delhi Daredevils as it made crucial errors in a crucial contest. GMR, the owners of the Delhi outfit, take immense pride in their work and institution, and rightly too, but on the organisational front at the Ferozeshah Kotla, the franchisee has faltered time and again.

The cricket affairs have been taken care of by T. A. Sekar, an outstanding fast bowler of his time who could not make it big for reasons not cricketing. If only he had had support from the team management and the national selectors when he was making batsmen hop around! But his ideas have hardly been implemented well at the Indian Premier League where a team like Delhi has struggled after a fine start to the competition.

With batsmen like Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir (40 off 28 balls with seven 4s) in scintillating form and a bowler like Glenn McGrath commanding respect match after match, it was ironical that Delhi found itself in a situation where it had to win all its last four matches. The do-or-die challenge against Kings XI Punjab was of its own making and no wonder even nature conspired to leave Delhi frustrated.

"How can you fight rain?" asked an exasperated Sehwag. He had lost a match that he had so superbly swung his team�s way with some sensational hitting in the first half. Sehwag�s innovations left even Ravi Shastri breathless. "Some of the shots these batsmen hit are mind-blowing," he raved as one talked of the shots that Sehwag produced on a night when rain and wind played havoc with the Delhi Daredevils� hopes of making it to the semifinals.

The spectators coming to the ground went through some harrowing moments due to police highhandedness. Those manning the entry gates were boorish and in the name of security harassed the paying public. It was hardly a pleasant experience for those who had bought tickets because their seats had been taken away by those who had gatecrashed. Some things just do not improve at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

The conduct of some of the DDCA officials, especially those from the Sports Committee, had come in for criticism on all fronts. It was not pleasant to see all and sundry invade the playing area after rain stopped play, much to the chagrin of the ground staff. And then it was most embarrassing at one stage when not even one member of the ground staff was around to bring the covers on even as the umpires made frantic gestures. Some things, despite the efforts of Arun Jaitley and Chetan Chauhan, just do not change at the DDCA.

On the field, two overs changed the course of the match for Delhi. One bowled by James Hopes when he conceded a mere three runs in the last over of the Daredevils� innings � this when Sehwag (51 off 26 balls with five 6s and two 4s) was on fire and Delhi on the right track.

And then Sehwag messed it up with a poor over that cost his team 22 runs. In the rain-curtailed match, Kings XI made it through some innovation from Mahela Jayawardene (36 off 17 balls with three 4s and two 6s), an eight-ball 23 by Yuvraj Singh and a 12-ball 25 by Luke Pomersbach.

The Scores

Delhi Daredevils v Kings XI Punjab, Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi, May 17, 2008.

Result: Kings XI Punjab won by six runs (D/L Method).

Delhi Daredevils 118 for four in 11 overs (G. Gambhir 40, V. Sehwag 51 n.o., R. Powar 2-22, J. Hopes 2-2) lost to Kings XI Punjab 94 for three in 8 overs (Y. Singh 23, M. Jayawardene 36 n.o., L. Pomersbach 25 n.o.) Revised target for Punjab, 89 in six overs.