The taste of defeat is never a good one but the Delhi team will be happy that they experimented with batting first - even though bowling is their strength - relatively early in the tournament. That their batsmen managed only 158, without a single stand-out performer, and the without the pressure of a big target Punjab knocked off the runs required with four wickets to spare, will not be a major concern.
Again Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif provided the early breakthroughs. McGrath won a shout for caught behind off Karan Goel when the ball had gone off thigh pad and Asif produced a peach of a lifter to send the dangerous Kumar Sangakkara back, thereby reducing Punjab to 11 for 2.
Simon Katich, known more for his limpet-like crease occupation than big hits, timed and placed his way to a sweet half-century, and even when Mahela Jayawardene popped a simple return catch to Shoaib Malik, Punjab were well on course. When Katich freed his arms against Malik to launch him into the stands over long-on, taking Punjab within sniffing distance of the 100-mark with seven wickets in hand, you knew it would take an extraordinary performance or a senseless collapse to change the course of the game.
As it happened, neither scenario panned out and Punjab coasted to a comfortable win in front of an overjoyed home crowd. Katich, an unlikely hero in this form of the game made 75, before being run out in an unfortunate mix up. Yuvraj Singh (40 not out) sealed the win without causing too many flutters.
While Punjab's batsmen were clinical, it was their bowling that set up this win. In the Delhi innings only Manoj Tiwary, with 39, got any sort of score on the board. While the Twenty20 format does not lend itself readily to big scores, all through the tournament the trend has been that the team where one batsman lasted long and scored tall came out on top.
Virender Sehwag was unlucky to be given out lbw to Irfan Pathan, though he survived a-plumb-in-front shout little earlier. Shikhar Dhawan was given out caught behind when the ball clearly went off shoulder and when Gautam Gambhir mishit one to Yuvraj at cover, Delhi were in trouble at 44 for 3. This soon became 88 for 5 as Shoaib Malik and Dinesh Karthik failed to get off the block.
Tiwary's enthusiastic yet occasionally unconvincing hitting did not make for the greatest viewing, but along with Rajat Bhatia he added a crucial 37 runs for the sixth wicket that saved Delhi's blushes and pushed the score on to 159, something that would not be good enough on the day.