CRICKET / Perth Scorchers puts up a gallant fight

Ajit Agarkar's all-round display backed by a composed half century from Virender Sehwag helped Delhi Daredevils beat Perth Scorchers by three wickets, and move a step closer to a semifinal berth in the Champions League Twenty20, here on Sunday.

After Delhi's pace duo of Morne Morkel and man-of-the-match Agarkar restricted Scorchers to 121 for five in 20 overs, the Daredevils struggled despite Sehwag's half-century but finally reached the target in 19.3 overs.

The win took Delhi to 10 points from three matches and gave it a good chance of qualifying while the defeat meant the end of the road for Scorchers.

Sehwag (52, 44b, 4x4, 1x6) played a restrained innings and the shot which brought up his half-century was a lucky one as his upper cut slipped from Nathan Rimmington's hands to go for a six.

However, Rimmington made amends in his next over, removing both Irfan Pathan (14) and Sehwag to reduce Delhi from a relatively comfortable 94 for four to 96 for six.

Agarkar, who has bowled beautifully, then came to the party and hit a couple of boundaries under pressure and his unbeaten 11 proved to be priceless in the end.

Flourishing finish

Needing eight off the final over, Agarkar hit a cover drive off Rimmington and then took a single for Negi took the strike. Needing three from four balls, young Negi blasted Rimmington through the mid-wicket for a four much to the delight of his dug-out.

Earlier, a fine performance by Morkel, and Agarkar helped Delhi restrict Scorchers. While Morkel had the best figures of three for 19 in his four overs, Agarkar bowled splendidly in the middle overs getting two wickets and giving away only 14 runs in the process. Umesh Yadav didn't get any wicket but kept things tight.

Herschelle Gibbs, who got a six with a pull shot off Irfan Pathan, played on when a Morkel delivery climbed up a bit more than the batsman expected.

Veteran left-hander Simon Katich tucked Morkel off his hips over deep fine leg area for a boundary and then hit Pathan over point for a six. Though the Power Play fetched the Scorchers 34 runs, Shaun Marsh's initial struggle was there for all to see. It took him 25 balls to score the first 15 runs but then in the company of Katich, he started growing in confidence.

A pull shot off Ajit Agarkar brought up the 50 for the team in the ninth over and their half-century partnership came off 50 balls.

After adding 73 runs for the second wicket, Marsh (39, 41b , 6x4) was back in the pavilion when his mistimed pull shot was taken by Sehwag at mid-wicket. It soon became 87 for three when Katich (34, 33b, 2x4, 1x6) was brilliantly caught by Jayawardene off Agarkar.

The scores:

Perth Scorchers: H. Gibbs b M. Morkel 6, S. Marsh c Sehwag b Agarkar 39, S. Katich c Jayawardene b Agarkar 34, M. Marsh c Pietersen b M. Morkel 20, L. Ronchi c Agarkar b M. Morkel 2, M. North (not out) 8, N. Coulter-Nile (not out) 2; Extras (lb-6, w-4): 10; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 121.

Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-84, 3-87, 4-99, 5-112.

Delhi Daredevils bowling: Pathan 3-0-20-0, M. Morkel 4-0-19-3, Yadav 4-0-24-0, Agarkar 4-0-14-2, Pietersen 3-0-26-0, Negi 2-0-12-0.

Delhi Daredevils: M. Jayawardene c Beer b Mennie 4, V. Sehwag c Mennie b Rimmington 52, U. Chand c Ronchi b Mennie 3, K. Pietersen c M. Marsh b Beer 9, R. Taylor lbw b Beer 5, I. Pathan c Katich b Rimmington 14, N Ojha c Ronchi b Coulter-Nile 6, P. Negi (not out) 7, A. Agarkar (not out) 11; Extras (b-1, lb-2, w-9): 12; Total (for seven wkts. in 19.3 overs): 123.

Fall of wickets: 1-10, 2-22, 3-45, 4-60, 5-94, 6-96, 7-104.

Scorchers bowling: Rimmington 3.3-0-29-2, Mennie 4-0-21-2, Coulter-Nile 4-0-25-1, Hogg 4-0-27-0, Beer 4-0-18-2.

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