Sehwag cracks the whip

Virender Sehwag... scintillating knock.-G. KRISHNASWAMY

The needlessly circumspect Deccan Chargers were steamrollered by the Delhi captain Virender Sehwag. Abhijit Sen Gupta reports.

A day before the clash between Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils at the Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad, the Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag had predicted that big hitters would play a crucial role.

The next day he himself set out to prove his words right. His blistering 94 not out off only 41 balls was the ‘coup de grace’ that ended whatever hopes Deccan Chargers had of fighting back. It eventually lost by nine wickets.

V. V. S. Laxman, who was leading the Chargers on its home ground, won the toss and rightly decided to bat. The wicket was expected to be full of runs, but the home team’s batsmen approached their task with unwarranted circumspection. A little more ‘charging’ at the rival bowling would not have been out of place.

As it turned out, apart from Rohit Sharma, who came up with a hard-hitting knock, none of the other batsmen could dominate the Delhi bowling. If it were not for Rohit, the home team’s total would have been even more modest than the 142 for eight that it eventually posted. Given the fact that the Chargers’ strength lay in its strong batting line-up, the total was way below expectations.

The only consolation was provided by Rohit Sharma. His brilliant 66 off 36 balls (6x4, 4x6) had the crowd on its feet. His onslaught on Sri Lankan medium-pacer Farveez Maharoof was breathtaking. He smashed two sixes and three fours in the 18th over to provide the much needed impetus to the innings just when the situation was looking really dismal.

However, full credit to the Delhi bowlers and fielders who did a splendid job of containing the hard-hitters in the home team’s line-up. Australian Glenn McGrath and Pakistani Mohammad Asif set the trend by striking an impeccable line and length right from the word ‘go’.

Deccan Chargers’ flamboyant opener Adam Gilchrist started off in style by whipping Asif over midwicket for a huge six. But that turned out to be a brief moment of triumph as the bowler soon got Gilly to play on to his stumps.

The advent of Hyderabad’s much vaunted hero V.V.S. Laxman brought about some loud cheers, but Asif beat him with pace and swing to wreck his stumps.

Symonds started on the right note with a powerful pull off McGrath to the fence. But he departed soon, snicking an away swinger from Maharoof to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik, who took a brilliant catch diving to his right.

Karthik caught the eye with his acrobatics behind the stumps. And when the Daredevils trooped off the field at the end of the innings, one felt that they already had the match in the bag.

All that was required now was a big knock from one of the Daredevils and their skipper decided to provide this himself.

Sehwag’s blazing knock demonstrated the woeful lack of penetration in the Chargers’ bowling. Early in his knock Sehwag did make an error, but the catch was floored by Pragyan Ojha at deep square leg, the unlucky bowler being Chaminda Vaas. Thereafter there was no stopping Sehwag. The Delhi star chose the gentle medium-pace of Andrew Symonds for special attention. In one over Symonds was thrashed for 4, 6, 4, 6, 4, 6.

Shikhar Dhawan gave the skipper company for a 112-run second wicket stand which saw Delhi romp home with seven overs to spare.

THE SCORES

Deccan Chargers v Delhi Daredevils, Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Hyderabad,

April 22, 2008 Result: