Out of contention but capable of compounding the problems of those aspiring for a place in the semifinals, Kings XI Punjab is busy getting vicarious pleasure.

After embarrassing Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, Punjab handed out a crushing seven-wicket defeat to Delhi Daredevils on Sunday and stayed firmly on the redemption course in the Indian Premier League.

Having restricted a complacent-looking Delhi to 111, Punjab turned the contest into a hopelessly one-sided affair with Mahela Jayawardene setting the pace. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara took the team to the threshold of victory before falling. Yuvraj Singh could afford to go slow and still contribute his bit to the winning cause.

A second consecutive defeat leaves Delhi needing two wins from its remaining three games to enter the semifinals. Punjab’s fourth victory – second in succession and third while chasing a target – brings welcome cheers to the team that remains at the bottom of the table.

Earlier, the Daredevils disappointed its supporters who braved blistering conditions to pack the stands of Ferozeshah Kotla ground. As though being forced to work on a Sunday, most batsmen seemed in a hurry to get away from the bright sun and be comfortable in the team’s dugout.

The pitch, which came under scrutiny following Anil Kumble’s criticism last Sunday, may have a role to play in Delhi’s misery with some deliveries keeping low and fetching wickets for Punjab but the approach of the home team reflected its over-confidence bordering on arrogance. In such a scenario, Irfan Pathan and Man of-the-Match Piyush Chawla did just enough to push Delhi to its doom.

Having won the toss and the game on the last three occasions after setting up targets in excess of 175, Delhi could not get things its way on this afternoon. After Virender Sehwag perished to the first ball he faced, skipper Gautam Gambhir smashed five boundaries – three off one over from Irfan Pathan and two in succession off Love Ablish – before being run-out for the third time in succession. It was indeed startling to watch Gambhir toss away his wicket so cheaply in a repeated attempt to steal a single!

Two deliveries later, David Warner too was run-out and wickets continued to fall at regular intervals. Only Mithun Manhas, who came into the side for Kedar Jadhav, matched Gambhir’s tally of 26 after Dinesh Karthik laboured to 17 runs off 35 deliveries before tossing away his wicket in frustration.

If the total crossed 100 it was due to Amit Mishra who became only the fourth batsman to reach double figures before Delhi folded at the Nelson figure.

The scores:

Delhi Daredevils: D. Warner (run out) 6 (11b, 1x4); V. Sehwag c Sodhi b Pathan 0 (1b), G. Gambhir (run out) 26 (12b, 5x4), P. Collingwood lbw b Chawla 4 (7b), D. Karthik c Jayawardene b Pathan 17 (35b, 1x4), D. Vettori b Chawla 2 (4b), M. Manhas b Theron 26 (26b, 1x4), R. Bhatia c Sodhi b Yuvraj 1 (5b), F. Maharoof b Ablish 0 (1b), A. Mishra (not out) 10 (10b), A. Nehra c Chawla b Pathan 1 (4b), Extras (lb-2, w-16) 18, Total (in 19.4 overs) 111.

Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-39, 3-41, 4-55, 5-63, 6-76, 7-81, 8-82, 9-105.

Kings XI Punjab bowling: R. Powar 4-0-25-0, I. Pathan 3.4-0-24-3, L. Ablish 2-0-19-1, P. Chawla 4-0-16-2, Yuvraj 4-0-14-1, J. Theron 2-0-11-1.

Kings XI Punjab: M. Jayawardene c Nehra b Collingwood 38 (35b, 4x4, 1x6), I. Pathan c Bhatia b Mishra 12 (17b, 1x4), K. Sangakkara b Collingwood 33 (30b, 4x4), Yuvraj Singh (not out) 21 (25b, 2x4, 1x6) , A. Barath (not out) 2 (5b), Extras (lb-5, w-1) 6, Total (for three wickets in 18.4 overs)

Fall of wickets: 1-41 2-65, 3-110.

Delhi Daredevils bowling: A. Nehra 2-0-8-0, F. Maharoof 2-0-16-0, A. Mishra 4-0-15-1, R. Bhatia 2-0-19-0, D. Vettori 3.4-0-27-0, P. Collingwood 4-0-19-2, V. Sehwag 1-0-3-0.

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