In the opening match of IPL 8, Morne Morkel turned out to be the hero for Kolkata Knight Riders with a game-defining spell. On Thursday, his brother Albie almost repeated the same for Delhi Daredevils with the bat. But, unfortunately, he could not lead his side to victory, since he was left to do a job singlehandedly. Chasing 151 was not a tough target even against the strong Chennai Super Kings, at the latter's home ground. But, leaving apart Albie, the manner in which they batted certainly pointed out to a complete lack of confidence in their own ability. Having bowled well, Delhi had a great chance to finish off the job, but failed.
Ashish Nehra is the Man of the Match
There were two significant phases during the match where Delhi lost it. First, was definitely the opening spell by Ashish Nehra during which they lost three wickets that put them completely on the back foot. 151 is the kind of target that could be easily chased down if the batting side gets a good start. But, Delhi faltered here as the left-arm seam of Nehra proved too good for them. Openers Mayank Agarwal, CM Gautam and Shreyas Iyer all fell cheaply, and put Delhi in serious trouble at the start. Nehra bowled brilliantly, and exposed the weaknesses in Delhi's batting.
In spite of the poor start, Delhi still had a chance to make a comeback since Albie was striking the ball so cleanly at the other end. But, he needed some support from the other end, which never came. Having lost early wickets, Delhi were looking up to Yuvraj Singh and JP Duminy to stand with Albie. But, both were dismissed in single-figure scores, which proved to be a massive setback for Delhi. In fact, seven batsmen during the innings were dismissed in single-figure scores, an indication of how poorly they batted. Earlier, Kedar Jadhav made a fighting 20, but given the circumstances, he should have carried on.
Chennai certainly proved that experience can be of great value in the T20 format. Their bowlers rose to the challenge even as Delhi's batsmen crumbled. While Nehra undoubtedly was a standout performer, it was a complete team effort with the ball from Chennai as everyone chipped in to make a difference. Dwayne Bravo claimed the big wicket of Yuvraj Singh while Ishwar Pandey got Duminy. World Cup heroes Mohit Sharma and Ravichandran Ashwin also chipped in with a wicket each while also being economical. Delhi can learn a lot from the manner in which they regrouped to end on top.
While Chennai should be pleased to start on a winning note, it was a far from convincing effort with the bat. No one really took the initiative to up the scoring after both Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina fell cheaply. Dwayne Smith got a start, but did not carry on. Among others, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja were surprisingly ineffective towards the end. As for Delhi, it was a clear case of a great opportunity gone abegging. Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled a superb spell at the top to derail Chennai's strong batting, and the others also supported him well. But, in the end, they left Albie with a little too much to do.
--By A Cricket Analyst