New Delhi, April 29 (IANS) Table toppers Delhi Daredevils won their seventh game in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in a thrilling last-ball one-run finish against Rajasthan Royals here Sunday thereby consolidating their position in the standings.
A packed Feroze Shah Kotla was treated to a humdinger, with Virender Sehwag once again starring with the bat for Delhi with 63 off 36 balls. But the hero of the match would have to be South African pacer and purple cap holder Morne Morkel.
With Rajasthan requiring just 15 runs off two overs, the South African pacer gave away just three runs in the penultimate over and took the wicket of Brad Hodge (22). Wicketkeeper Naman Ojha affected a good run out of Owais Shah (1) in the last ball to stop the match from going to a super-over.
Ajinkya Rahane played a delightful 84 off 63 balls and took Rajasthan ever so close to the target. Rajasthan, who restricted Delhi to 152 for six, seemed to be cantering to victory courtesy skipper Rahul Dravid (40) and Rahane 99-run opening partnership.
The former India captain was quick off the the block but his younger and more adventurous opening partner soon overtook him. Requiring 86 off the last 10 overs, the visitors stumbled towards the end.
Dravid was sent packing courtesy a blinder by pacer Ajit Agarkar at the long-on boundary.
Delhi batting first for only the second time in the tournament, lost Mahela Jayawardene (6) and Kevin Pietersen (5) early in the innings. Pietersen has been in sparkling form this season scoring 269 runs with an unbeaten century to his name. He started well today also but his innings came to a premature end courtesy a smart catch by Dravid in first slip.
After the early jitters, Sehwag and Ross Taylor (25) brought some sense to the proceedings with an 80-run stand for the third wicket.
Sehwag announced his intentions by smashing West Indian Kevon Cooper for a six over long in the sixth over and then the very next over smacked Ankit Chavan for two boundaries.
Just as things were looking ominous for Rajasthan, Ashok Menaria took a brilliant diving catch off the bowling of Brad Hogg to send Sehwag back to the pavilion.
There was a lull in the scoring after Sehwag's dismissal in the 13th over. Australian spinner Hogg was once again in the thick of action as he pushed his tally to eight wickets in the tournament.
Delhi's innings stagnated after Sehwag fell. Taylor was castled by Pankaj Singh for his second wicket as the New Zealand captain's laboured innings came to an end.
Naman Ojha and Taylor once again failed to impress, though Yogesh Nagar came to the rescue of the Daredevils, plundering Amit Singh for 20 off the last over to propel the hosts to a fighting total.
(Santosh Rao can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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