Hyderabad: Deccan Chargers are out of the race for the play-offs, but are regarded as a team that can still spoil the party for a couple of top teams. Delhi Daredevils, on the other hand, have been the best team in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League. But the difference in class certainly didn't make for a low-intensity clash. We got a very high-scoring match, which saw Deccan showing some fireworks of their own, only to later be trumped by David Warner.
For the first half of the Deccan innings, it didn’t look like the hosts would put up a challenging total. The start was steady but not spectacular, and things became tricky when Daniel Harris and Kumar Sangakkara fell within an over in the powerplay. Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White started to rebuild, but at 70 for two after 11 overs, they were looking at a middling, rather than formidable, total. That was when both Dhawan and White cut loose, thumping the Delhi bowling for 100 runs in the next seven overs. In that period, Dhawan blasted 56 off 20 while White hit 43 off 21. Dhawan was eventually run out for 84 off 49 balls while White fell for a 40-ball 65 in the final over. But their 126-run stand had pushed the Chargers to a massive total of 187 for 4.
Massive was what the total needed to be, given that Deccan had gone into the match without either Dale Steyn or Rusty Theron, preferring to strengthen the batting and going in with an all-Indian bowling attack. That decision, in the final analysis, proved to be their undoing. Without either Steyn or Theron, Sangakkara didn’t have anyone to turn to as leader of the attack, and Warner feasted on the domestic bowlers. Not before Delhi captain Virender Sehwag fell in the first over to the Dhawan-White pairing again – Sehwag outside-edging a slog to White at cover off Dhawan.
But that was the last bit of celebration for Deccan. After that, it was the Warner and Naman Ojha show; Warner the lead, Ojha the flamboyant second fiddle.
Warner trumped the previous batting performances of the match, teeing off from the start and making a tough chase look like a stroll in the park. He raised his fifty off just 26 balls, and with Ojha providing good support, the duo raised the second century partnership of the match. Warner didn’t stop there and his century came off just 52 deliveries, with a victory for Delhi coming up with 20 balls to spare. Ojha reached his half-century almost unnoticed, as Warner and Ojha stitched together an incredible 189 runs together. Warner remained unbeaten on 109 – 82 of which came in boundaries. While Ojha's unbeaten 64 included five sixes and two fours, the last of which took Delhi past the target to seal a nine-wicket win.
Now, not only are the Daredevils back at the top of the table, they have in Warner a person who will not allow Kevin Pietersen's absence to be felt at all as the knockout stages appear around the corner.