David Miller and Sandeep Sharma play crucial roles in the seven-run victory over Delhi Daredevils

When a side sets a target of 172 and reduces the opposition to 21 for three in the first six overs, the winner is easy to guess. Eventually, only seven runs separated an inspired Kings XI Punjab from an almost indifferent, but occasionally desperate, Delhi Daredevils. But the match was far more one-sided than the margin suggests. The victory kept alive KXIP’s slim chances of making the playoffs.

It is to the credit of Ben Rohrer, whose late hitting helped Daredevils get closer than expected to KXIP’s tally, after Sandeep Sharma had kept the chase in check with three wickets. Morne Morkel did hit two sixes in the last over to bring down the margin, even though the target was beyond the visitors’ reach.

On a pitch which offered plenty of bounce, making the medium-pacers and stroke-makers lick their lips in anticipation, the host reached 171 for four in 20 overs. The brisk start and some lusty hitting between the 16th and 19th overs set up a total that looked 15-20 runs below par at the break.

But before the Power Play of Delhi’s innings was up, the score appeared a winning one. Such was the contrast in displays of the top-order batsmen of both teams. KXIP, with four overseas players forming the cream of the batting, laid the foundation with Adam Gilchrist off to a flier.

Counter-assault

Having shown form in recent matches, Gilchrist launched a counter-assault on the five-man medium-pace attack to race away to 42 before falling while attempting a third six. Marsh managed to find some boundaries after losing Azhar Mahmood’s company.

Later, ‘man of the match’ David Miller smashed an unbeaten 24-ball 44, with four sixes and three boundaries, to prop up the total.

In 3.3 overs, Miller and R. Sathish added 47 runs for the fourth wicket. But the finish to the innings was a tame one with the final over producing just six runs, including a last-ball four by Miller.

In the eventual analysis, the loss of early wickets hurt Daredevils. Virender Sehwag and Jayawardena, who had opened the innings against Mumbai Indians after six losses this season, found each other’s company here after three wickets fell cheaply. The situation demanded the two class batsmen to undo the damage caused by Sandeep Sharma’s twin-blows — he sent back Irfan Pathan and David Warner in a double-wicket maiden fourth over.

Briefly, the off-form Sehwag rode his luck and struck six boundaries — not all from the middle of the bat — to keep alive Delhi’s chances of making a match of it.

But his departure for 30 off 22 deliveries left the visitors reeling at 61 for four in the 11th over.

Jayawardena, who was dropped on zero, five and 13 and survived a run-out chance on seven, carried on in the company of Rohrer, who did his bit to prevent the asking-rate from mounting further.

Some desperate blows later, Jayawardena finally became Sandeep’s third victim. Some big shots at the ‘death’ proved too little too late for Daredevils.

Scoreboard:

Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist c and b Irfan 42 (26b, 5x4, 2x6), Shaun Marsh c Irfan b Morkel 45 (44b, 7x4), Azhar Mahmood c Kaul b Nehra 9 (13b, 1x4), David Miller (not out) 44 (24b, 3x4, 4x6), R. Sathish c Rohrer b Nehra 22 (24b, 2x4, 1x6), Piyush Chawla (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-6, w-3): 9; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 171.

Fall of wickets: 1-60 (Gilchrist), 2-86 (Mahmood), 3-120 (Marsh), 4-167 (Sathish).

Delhi Daredevils bowling: Irfan Pathan 4-0-28-1, Siddarth Kaul 4-0-39-0, Morne Morkel 4-0-22-1, Ashish Nehra 4-0-38-2, Umesh Yadav 4-0-38-0.

Delhi Daredevils: Mahela Jayawardena c Vohra b Sandeep 39 (42b, 3x4, 1x6), Unmukt Chand b Praveen 7 (8b, 1x6), Irfan Pathan c Gilchrist b Sandeep 1 (7b), David Warner c Marsh b Sandeep 0 (1b), Virender Sehwag c Gilchrist b Awana 30 (22b, 6x4), Ben Rohrer b Chawla 49 (29b, 4x4, 3x6), C.M. Gautam (not out) 12 (8b, 2x4), Morne Morkel c Miller b Chawla 13 (4b, 2x6); Extras (b-4, lb-6, nb-3): 13; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 164.

Fall of wickets: 1-11 (Unmukt), 2-12 (Irfan), 3-12 (Warner), 4-61 (Sehwag), 5-111 (Jayawardena), 6-150 (Rohrer), 7-164 (Morkel).

Kings XI Punjab bowling: Praveen Kumar 4-0-19-1, Azhar Mahmood 4-0-40-1, Sandeep Sharma 4-1-23-3, Parvinder Awana 4-0-28-1, Piyush Chawla 4-0-44-2.

Man-of-the-match: David Miller.

More In: Ipl 2013 | Cricket | Sport