On Tuesday night, Sehwag rattled up his fifth successive IPL-V half-century to deliver Delhi Daredevils their eighth win from ten matches this season, as they vanquished Rajasthan Royals by six wickets with 28 balls to spare at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here. Sehwag's feverish striking and Man-of-the-match Pawan Negi's for 18 helped Delhi consolidate their position at the top of the point table, a place in the last now a near certainty. For Royals this was their fourth consecutive defeat.
What are you able to do but watch in wonder, or despair, when an opening batsman smashes 73 in 38 balls in a chase of 142? What are you able to do when, despite all feasible measures of control in place, runs arrive in a torrent of large hits? The kind of form and intent that Virender Sehwag is in, the opposition may as well buy passes to the viewers' enclosure and spare themselves the ordeal of humiliation.
Pietersen's season-ending 36 (the English superstar leaves the IPL hoopla in favour of Check duty against the West Indies) and the 96 they added together with his devil-may-care skipper took Delhi to the brink of victory, whence the likely result was realised without a stutter ' despite Sehwag holing out to Brad Hogg 11 runs short of the target. But if Sehwag played an important hand, so did young left-arm spinner Negi.
After being deceived in the chase at the Feroz Shah Kotla a few days ago, Dravid chosen to bat first in the return fixture, and the decision paid off as the captain and the in-form Ajinkya Rahane drove the home team to a powerful start.
Dravid (57) and Rahane added 71 in under nine overs, before Negi added his own twist to proceedings. The left-armer - Ajit Agarkar's replacement in the side - stalled Rajasthan when they were looking to take off from the preliminary platform. Negi came on when Royals were cruising on 56 for no loss at the finish of the
Powerplay, and left the visiting side in tatters ' on 93 for after 13 overs.
The 19-year-old lured Rahane (42) in to a reverse hit that ended with Sehwag at point. In came Shane Watson ' for his first game of the season ' and clouted Shahbaz Nadeem for six, before losing his off-stump to Negi. In his final over, Negi claimed more victims - Brad Hodge and Ashok Menaria ' ending with figures of for 18.
But Royals were struggling to receive a move on even before this double-wicket burst, as an implossion to the tune of wickets for 24 runs cost them dear. All this while, Dravid held strong, bringing up his fifty in 35 balls, but finally giving his wicket away when they played Morkel on to his stumps. No matter that - the mood Sehwag was in even 30 more runs wouldn't have brought Rajasthan their desired result.