He may be weary after sleepless nights and frequent flying. Short of motivation too, after the World Cup high.

However, Virender Sehwag led from the front with a sparkling 80 as Delhi Daredevils defeated Kochi Tuskers Kerala by 38 runs in the Indian Premier League at the Nehru Stadium here on Saturday.

The innings had all the spice and aggression that only Sehwag can bring to the game and was studded with five sixes and eight fours.

It was against all odds too, on a wicket where the ball kept alarmingly low, sometimes even virtually rolling on the track.

The Kochi Tuskers captain Mahela Jayawardene had predicted that a ‘hurt' Delhi, coming here after many losses, could be a dangerous team.

How true! The victory helped move up Delhi from the bottom spot to seventh in the points table.

The wicket was a big change from the green-tinged one which had proved to be the Tuskers' graveyard against Deccan Chargers three days ago. This one also turned out to be very tough for the batsmen.

Early wickets

Sehwag won the toss and opted to bat, but it was Sreesanth and the Tuskers who were celebrating early.

The Kerala fast bowler made the most of the conditions. His first delivery foxed Delhi's left-handed opener David Warner as it sneaked past his bat and bit the off-stump. Sreesanth was at it again three balls later with another low one which virtually kissed Naman Ojha's boot. He was out lbw.

Sehwag was watching all this from the other end. He treated Sreesanth with respect, playing cautiously. Delhi made just 46 after 10 overs, but Sehwag opened up in the 13th over.

He charged down the pitch and carted spinner Ravindra Jadeja twice for huge sixes, one of which went over long-off and almost into the Kochi dugout.

He was at his brilliant best and the crowd, though very thin for Kochi's first evening game, loved it.

Crucial partnership

Sehwag had a 56-run stand with Yogesh Nagar and a 41-run partnership with Travis Birt. He made his exit after an entertaining 47-ball knock, falling to Vinay Kumar.

He tried to lift Vinay towards extra-cover, but found the safe hands of Brad Hodge near the boundary ropes.

Chasing 157, Kochi began cautiously, but its top-order, which had a new look with Brendon McCullum opening with IPL debutant Michael Klinger, failed to click on the wily wicket.

Klinger perished when Roelof van der Merwe pulled off a brilliant jumping catch and a little later McCullum also perished.

At 28 for three, life was tough for the Tuskers. Mahela Jayawardene and Brad Hodge hung on for some time and Ravindra Jadeja came up with a fighting 31.

But in the end, it was not enough. Morkel and van der Merve picked up three wickets each.

Keywords: IPL 2011

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