A disciplined Deccan Chargers lifted themselves from near the basement of the IPL table to fourth place with an important win over fellow strugglers Delhi Daredevils on a slow-and-low track at Feroz Shah Kotla. Their stand-out performers were not the marquee names but unsung opener Sunny Sohal and medium-pacer Harmeet Singh, playing his first match of the season.
Sohal put on a powerful partnership with Kumar Sangakkara to seemingly set Deccan on their way to their highest total of the tournament, but Delhi shackled them in the second half of the innings to keep them to a more-manageable 168. Harmeet, however, removed two of Delhi's three lethal hitters cheaply to swing the game in Deccan's favour.
Deccan began brightly with a beautiful Sohal cover drive for four off the first ball, and Shikhar Dhawan belted two more boundaries in the over. Delhi hit back as Irfan Pathan had Dhawan chopping on, but that brought together Sangakkara and Sohal, who put together Deccan's best passage of play in a 92-run stand.
Sangakkara was his usual elegant self, timing the ball wonderfully as he cut and drove the loose deliveries on offer. He was at his most punishing against the spinners, welcoming Shahbaz Nadeem's left-arm spin with a six over midwicket, and two more leg-side boundaries. Yogesh Nagar, playing his first game of the season, was also taken for two extra cover boundaries. Both times Sangakkara teased Morne Morkel on the boundary, making him dive to his left, and then to his right; but both times the ball eluded the fielder.
Sohal also didn't play a typical brute-force Twenty20 innings. His 62 was sprinkled with dabs to third man and clever glides past fine leg, besides some textbook drives. It was only once he reached his half-century that he brought out the big shots, smashing Morkel for a six near the sightscreen and then blasting him through the covers.
At 103 for 1 after 11 overs, even 200 was within Deccan's sights. Ashok Dinda, though, had Sangakkara miscuing to cover, where he was taken by a back-pedalling Aaron Finch, and another smart catch from Finch sent back Sohal a couple of overs later. Though the big-hitters, Cameron White and Dan Christian, were at the crease, Deccan couldn't maintain the pace. There were only three boundaries in the final six overs as Delhi squeezed the runs with some accurate bowling.