IPL: Delhi beat Punjab to move into play-off stage

Virender SehwagNew Delhi: Table toppers Delhi Daredevils became the first team to qualify for the play-off stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL) as they beat Kings XI Punjab by five wickets at the Ferozeshah Kotla here Tuesday.

It was comprehensive performance by the Daredevils and with the win they almost dented Kings XI hopes of making it to the play-off stages.

Kings XI are still lying at the seventh position with 14 points from 14 matches and have made things tough for themselves. They now not only have to win their remaining two matches but keep an eye on other matches as well.

A disciplined bowling performance by Delhi Daredevils pacers Umesh Yadav (3-21) and Varun Aaron (2-19) restricted Kings XI to a below par 136 for eight in 20 overs. Umesh was also adjudged as Man of the Match.

Mahela Jaywardene then played a responsible innings of unbeaten 56 that helped Daredevils recover from a poor start and safely reach140 for five with six balls to spare.

Defending a small target was always going to be tough for the Kings XI, but pacer Parwinder Awana (3-22), a local boy, raised hopes of an unlikely win by removing Delhi skipper Virender Sehwag (8), Venugopal Rao (7) and Ross Taylor in his successive overs to reduce Daredevils to 47 for four inside six over.

But vice-captain Jayawardene and Naman Ojha (34) joined forces with a 58-run stand for the fifth wicket that took Daredevils on the threshold of a win.

Earlier opting to bat first, Kings XI top-order had to blame them for their dismal performance in what was their must-win game. Mandeep Singh (21), Shaun Marsh (13) and Nitin Saini (15) got decent starts but failed to convert them into big innings and gifted away their wickets playing loose shots.

Kings XI came into the match riding high on confidence after their sensational win over tournament's favourite whipping boys Deccan Chargers at home Sunday night. But they couldn't replicate the same performance as they lost wickets at regular intervals and failed to stitch a decent partnership.

Aaron did the most of the damage in the first 10 overs with an excellent spell, first to get rid of Marsh, who tried to play it down the leg-side and Ojha took a brilliant catch diving right. In his second over, Aaron struck again to remove Mandeep with Sehwag taking a good low tumbling catch at short-midwicket.

Umesh also got into the act and struck with his second ball that moved a little and Saini found an edge with Sehwag taking another sharp catch at wide slip. David Millera's (4) run out after a mix-up with Hussey reduced Kings XI to 63 for four.

Azhar Mahmood (9) became Umesh's second victim in the 12th over as Punjab lost half-the-side for just 80 runs on board.

From there on, it was basically a one-man show with Hussey literally carrying the team on his shoulders. The Australian hit five fours and a six in his 35-ball patient knock. Hussey was also involved in a crucial 29-run stand for the seventh wicket with Piyush Chawla (11) that helped Kings XI get past the 100-run mark.

Kings XI Punjab, who are placed seventh, now have to depend on the heroics of their bowlers to pull of an unlikely win over the table toppers. Kings XI have 14 points from 13 matches while Daredevils are sitting on top with 18 points also from 13 matches.

Kings XI Punjab made two changes in the side as they included David Miller and Harmeet Singh in place of Ryan Harris and Siddharth Chitnis.