Mumbai: The Delhi DareDevils are suddenly looking as the team to beat in this edition of the IPL. With three wins from four matches, the Virender Sehwag-led team are at the top of the points table.
Three other teams — Rajasthan Royals, Sahara Pune Warriors India and Mumbai Indians — have the same number of wins, but the DareDevils enjoy a better net run-rate.
For the Knight Riders’ fans, the news is not too pleasant as Gautam Gambhir’s team have now slipped to the fifth position with just two wins from five matches.
The three victories that the Delhi side have registered so far reflect on how dominant they have been in IPL-V. They beat three of the strongest sides this year by healthy margins. Against the Kolkata Knight Riders they won by eight wickets, they beat the Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets again and on Monday, they humbled Mumbai Indians by seven wickets.
The DareDevils’ only defeat came against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, when they fell short by 20 runs.
With the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor in the batting line-up, one would assume that chasing targets are almost proving to be a cakewalk for the DareDevils. But it is actually the bowlers who are doing the trick by restricting the oppositions to meagre totals. Here’s what the teams managed against the DareDevils bowling in the matches they have won: Knight Riders — 97/9; Super Kings — 110/8 and Mumbai Indians — 92.
A lot of credit should therefore go to the DareDevils bowlers, led by Morne Morkel, with Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan and Shahbaz Nadeem for company.
Coming back to Monday’s match, Sehwag & Co. needed just 14.5 overs to reach the 93-run target, losing only three wickets. Sehwag top scored with 32, while Morkel, Nadeem, Yadav and Ajit Agarkar took tow wickets each.
The following are excerpts
Virender Sehwag: It was a solid all-round performance from my team… It was important to make a good start to the match… We managed to do that by bowling well. The fielding was also superb.
My bowlers did a fantastic job. The wicket had something for the bowlers. And they grabbed the opportunity with both hands by putting up a spectacular performance. We knew that their openers wouldn’t be comfortable against our spinners. So, I felt that I should start with spin. I brought on Nadeem and asked him to bowl to their legs… I think the ploy worked.
I don’t know whether a score of 140 would have been difficult to chase on this wicket, but I feel your approach changes when you have a big total. You go out there and start to play your shots from the outset… You always want to score runs in the first six overs.
We are not considered as the favourites for this year’s IPL. But we are trying our best… We are working very hard to prove ourselves. There are couple of batsmen in the side who can hit big… There is also a good amount of experience in the side.
Harbhajan Singh: I think that the pitch had some life in it. Our batsmen played some poor shots… They were not up to the mark. But a lot can be learnt from this game. Hopefully, we will play better in our next match.
I think a score of around 140-150 would have been competitive on this wicket.
Shahbaz Nadeem: I thoroughly enjoyed bowling in these sort of conditions. The pitch was conducive to spin bowling… It was a very important match for us. So, I was very happy to contribute to the team’s win.