Kings XI clinch thriller in the rain
Kings XI Punjab beat Delhi Daredevils by six runs on home turf as a rain-affected and disjointed game was settled by the Duckworth/Lewis method after the match had been reduced to 11 overs a side.
The Daredevils posted 118-4 as Virender Sehwag plundered 51 off 26 balls to register the IPLís second fastest half-century, but rain stopped play for two hours and disrupted the flow of the Delhi captain, allowing the visitors to take full advantage.
Mahela Jayawardene (36 off 17 balls) and Luke Pomersbach (25 off 12) combined for an explosive partnership to see Punjab over the line and the Sri Lankan struck a vital six off the final ball before the rain again fell to edge the D/L equation in his sideís favour.
The result leaves the Kings XI on the brink of a semi-final spot after seven wins in their last eight outings, whilst Delhi will be left contemplating where it all went wrong after seeing their challenge stutter in recent games.
After losing their previous four ties in the competition, the Daredevils needed a solid start to rejuvenate their challenge to reach the semi-finals and a combination of some sloppy fielding and some expansive batting from Gautam Gambhir and Sehwag ensured they raced along after a delayed start.
However both openers endured nervy moments in the opening overs, particularly when Yuvraj Singh criminally dropped Sehwag as he lofted a Sreesanth delivery high into the air with just six runs to his name, but Gambhirís luck held initially as he hit seven fours in making 40 from 28 balls.
The baton was firmly handed to Sehwag in the sixth over as VRV Singh went for 22 runs after coming into the attack, the highlight being consecutive sixes from the Delhi captain as he gave the home sideís run rate a notable boost.
Yuvraj handed Ramesh Powar the ball in an attempt to break the productive partnership and the portly Mumbai native duly obliged in his first over, bowling Gambhir with a delivery that straightened to ghost past his inside edge and clatter into the stumps.
After Sehwag produced a huge six off the first ball of the ninth over, the covers came back on to signal a lengthy delay and when play resumed, the game became an 11-over affair.
The halt in proceedings and the new impetus for runs, and lots of them, in the remaining 17 balls put Delhi off their stride and after Shikhar Dhawan (8) holed out off the bowling of Powar, James Hopes produced a stunning final over to keep the score down.
Tillakaratne Dilshan (8) and Farveez Maharoof (0) were both caught trying to find the boundary and just three runs were conceded to give Kings XI Punjab a fighting chance.
Their reply started in slow fashion as Glenn McGrath conceded just three runs from the first over and Australian duo Shaun Marsh (2) and James Hopes (4) offered little as they fell to Pradeep Sangwan and Amit Mishra respectively.
In between, a quickfire 23 off just 8 balls from Yuvraj was ended when Farveez Maharoof produced a fine catch in the deep off the bowling of McGrath with the Kings XI captain attempting to claim a third six in succession.
Jayawardene and Pomersbach then came to the fore with some fearsome hitting, collaborating for a match-winning partnership of 63 runs off 27 balls.
The fifth over was the turning point as Sehwag brought himself into the attack and promptly conceded 22 runs.
Three overs later, Rajat Bhatia reined both players in with some clever bowling before Jayawardene hit a vital six off the final ball of his innings, putting Kings XI Punjab in front via the D/L method.