The route to the stadium was dotted with policemen. Posted at vantage spots, they guided the cricket fans, both braving the heat, contributing to making the process an occasion to remember. The stands were packed, cricket was good in patches, but Delhi Daredevils, the home team, had a lot to gain from the Indian Premier League contest. DD won by 15 runs to move to the second last spot in the table, ahead of Pune Warriors.
Daredevils’ batting woes remained. The team stuttered on a decent pitch before recovering through David Warner’s brilliant assault that saw the innings boosted by 63 runs in the last five overs. DD had struggled to organise its middle overs and Warner was assigned a new role to specifically produce the big shots, which he did with flourish and lived up to his image of a busy stroke-player.
A crowd of 45,000 celebrated the biggest cricket match in this region at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium.
Many among them would have travelled more than 45km to see some big names from the world of cricket.
And Warner entertained them on Sunday. His charge was the saving grace for Daredevils on a night when Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene failed to produce the magic at the top. Unmukt Chand’s dismal run continued as he chose the wrong ball to cut.
Warner, the Man-of-the-match, waded into the bowling, clouting the ball into the stands. Jadhav joined the party with two straight sixes.
Daredevils, with 68 runs from the first 10 overs, added 96 in the next 10 and registered a total that gave the bowlers some cushion.
However, they had to contend with a confident Robin Uthappa and Aaron Finch.
Uthappa and Finch gave Pune Warriors just the start it needed before both departed in succession. Uthappa fell to a superb catch and Finch went to a poor caught-behind decision, the ball grazing the hip. Daredevils hung in even as Pune Warriors mounted a spirited chase. It remained close as the runs were not easy to come by.
The PWI batsmen attempted some brave shots but Umesh Yadav swung it Daredevils’ way with the wickets of Luke Wright and Yuvraj Singh in an over.
These strikes proved crucial and Daredevils did well to win the first match on its ‘adopted’ home turf.
The crowd loved it, so did the teams, with credit to curator Shamim Mirza for producing one of the better pitches in this edition of the IPL.