A Sam Billings half century and a fantastic all-round bowling performance handed the Delhi Daredevils a comprehensive 51-run victory over the Kings XI Punjab at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in Delhi in their Indian Premier League clash on Saturday night.
Full scorecard: Delhi v Punjab
After setting an imposing 188 for six thanks to quality knocks on either end of the innings from Billings (55 from 40) and Corey Anderson, who provided a destructive 39 not out from just 22 balls, including three sixes and three fours, the home side produced a miserly display of bowling that strangled their guests to reduce them to 137 for nine.
The Punjab chase got off to a faltering start as Shahbaz Nadeem (2-13 from two overs) had opener Manan Vohra trapped lbw for three from six balls in the second over when the batsman tried to paddle sweep a ball that was far too full to do so.
Bowling the left-arm finger spinner in the early stages of the innings was an intelligent move from Paddy Upton and the rest of the brains trust at the Daredevils.
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During their spell with the willow they struggled against back of a length bowling during the middle overs and perhaps wanted to fulfil their spin quota as soon as possible.
Whatever their rationale, the ploy worked a charm as Nadeem soon had his second.
After being struck for four by Wriddhiman Saha (7 from 5), he gave the ball some air and induced the aggressive stroke maker down the track who got closer to the ball than he would have liked and could not control his cover drive that was safely caught by the evergreen Zaheer Kahn inches from the ground.
At the other end, Hashim Amla (19 from 12) looked in great touch. He alone took the fight to Nadeem and struck him for two classy boundaries.
When his countryman Chris Morris (3-23 from four overs) was introduced into the attack, a monumental battle between two South African superstars was on the cards.
Amla registered the first blow, shimmying across his stumps to flick the ball to the fine leg boundary, but will be kicking himself for throwing his wicket away a ball later.
A full toss on leg stump could, and should, have been blasted anywhere but the man standing at deep backward square but that is exactly what Amla did.
Morris wore an expression that was both delight and embarrassment as the score read 31-3.
All three of the opening Punjab wickets came as a result of poor shot selection. One can chalk that up to the nature of the format but it would be remiss to discount the toll that scoreboard pressure exerts on the mind and body of elite batsmen. Regardless, the away side were in a heap of trouble.
Morris and Pat Cummins (2-23 from 4) continued to hit a good length at pace to frustrate the usually free flowing Eoin Morgan (22 from 20) and David Miller (24 from 28). Cummins was particularly quick and beat both batsmen for brute pace on more than one occasion.
With the required rate rising, something had to give and although Morgan managed to slap Cummins away for two boundaries through the off side, he could not replicate the feat a third time and picked our Karun Nair at backward point.
Glenn Maxwell then strode to the wicket with his side in a world of trouble and placed the responsibility of steadying the ship squarely on his shoulders.
Unfortunately for Punjab a rush of blood to the Australian’s head resulted in an ugly slog against the spin of Amit Mishra (1-16 from 3).
The ball found the top edge and was comfortably held by Sam Billings on the leg side boundary when it returned from its dizzying zenith.
It was a near perfect bowling performance from Delhi and another fantastic delivery, this time from Corey Anderson (1-23 from 3), trapped Miller full on the pads for an easy lbw decision for the umpire.
Axar Patel was the lone light in the Punjab innings and followed up a great spell of bowling of his own to register his highest IPL score of 44, including three monster sixes.
He was eventually bowled on the final ball of the match by Morris; a fitting end to an extremely one sided contest.
Earlier in the day, the home side scored 26 more runs than last year’s first innings average on this ground thanks to a wonderful knock from Billings at the top of the order.
The Englishman made light work of some poor bowling that strayed on his pads too often as he bludgeoned nine fours.
His innings came to an end when he was beaten in the flight by Patel who was the pick of the Punjab bowlers and deserved more than his 1-33 from four overs.
After charging down the track, Billings never got close enough to the pitch and was forced to attempt a heave through to the leg side but could not beat Miller’s safe hands at cow corner.
Contributions from Shreyas Iyer (22 from 17) and Morris (16 from 8) helped the scoreboard tick along before Anderson’s explosives propelled the homes side to their sizable target.
The Daredevils climb up to third thanks to a healthy run rate, leapfrogging the Kings XI who now drop down to fifth.
Both sides are in action on Monday as the Delhi fans will once again cheer on their team as they host the Kolkata Knight Riders and the Kings XI are on the road again when they head south to take on the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
DELHI DAREDEVILS: KK Nair, SW Billings, SV Samson, SS Iyer, RR Pant (wk), CJ Anderson, CH Morris, PJ Cummins, A Mishra, Z Khan (capt), S Nadeem
KINGS XI PUNJAB: HM Amla, M Vohra, GJ Maxwell (capt), EJG Morgan, DA Miller, AR Patel, WP Saha (wk), MM Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, VR Aaron, KC Cariappa