Sehwag and Ghambir light up Delhi
The class opening pair in the Indian Premier League, the Delhi Daredevils' Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir, showed they will be a handful against the rest of the teams when they powered their side to a convincing 10-wicket win over the Kings XI Punjab.
The task was made easier when Delhi's target was amended to 54 off six overs after rain had taken players off the field with the score on 24/0 after 1.5 overs.
When the match itself started 100 minutes late due to rain, it had already been reduced to 12 overs a side. Rain during the Delhi innings made for an even shorter game, ultimately only 16.5 overs long.
Sehwag and Gambhir, also partners in the Indian national team, put on 58 off 32 balls to ease Delhi, semi-finalists in the IPL last year, home.
One of the main selling points in favour of the IPL moving to South Africa three weeks ago had been prospects for good weather.
Cape Town could not deliver for the entire weekend, but the players took the delays in good heart yesterday.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, in the Delhi colours, was named Man of the Match for his 3/15 in the Punjab total of 104/7.
"Having probably the best opening partnership in Twenty20 cricket makes for a good feel in the team," said Vettori. "They both know their games so well that it is a huge advantage for us (in this format)."
The message from Vettori was to expect more good performances from the spinners playing in the tournament.
Vettori said it had been great to see leg-spinners Shane Warne and Anil Kumble star in the Rajasthan-Bangalore clash on Saturday night.
"I certainly hope there's more to come from the spinners. Slow bowlers have adapted best in the IPL. In any (format) the good players excel," Vettori said.
Spinners could go for plenty of runs, too, but Vettori said: "You know batsmen are going to be aggressive. It's the nature of Twenty20 cricket. You know they are going to take you on."
Delhi captain Sehwag said players like Glenn McGrath, Paul Collingwood and David Warner would come into contention for games soon.
"It is very hard to pick four foreign players out of 10. They all deserve to play. We have to look at combinations.
"Warner will get a chance in the next couple of games. Glenn is off a long rest. He needs to get used to bowling, spend more time in the nets," added Sehwag.
Punjab got the wrong end of the weather yesterday, but were not too dismayed at the defeat.
Coach Tom Moody said: "You can't read too much into the result of a game like today."
Delhi being asked to bat only six overs with all their wickets in hand was a "near on impossible" position for his team, Moody added.
Punjab had also had a decent opening stand. Karan Goel (38 off 21 balls, three fours and three sixes) and Ravi Bopara (22 off 16 balls, two sixes) added 67 before Goel was out at the end of the sixth over.
Moody was pretty pleased with that performance. "I'm happy with the way we batted up front, particularly in conditions favourable for the new ball," he said.
Punjab did fall foul of the tournament's latest innovation, the mid-innings break, which came when they were on a handy 67/1 after six overs.
They lost Bopara's wicket off the first ball after the resumption, and could add only 37 runs in the second six overs of their innings, for the loss of six wickets.
"On this occasion (the strategy break) worked against us. We had momentum, and then seven-and-a-half minutes to lose that," said Moody.
It was a perfect time for Vettori, who is a world-class spinner, to come on. And the momentum swung in favour of Delhi. "There will be days when it works in favour of us also, and slows down the opposition," said Moody.