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Slow Kotla pitch makes it hard battle

cricket Updated: Apr 13, 2013 09:34 IST
Kaushik Chatterji
Kaushik Chatterji
Hindustan Times
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In the midst of all the big names, it is not easy to notice the relative unknowns, even if you are one yourself. In the second over of the Sunrisers' chase, Akshath Reddy pushed Sidharth Kaul on the leg-side for what should have been a regulation single, but for Shahbaz Nadeem.

A useful left-arm spinner for the Daredevils, Nadeem swooped down and picked it up with his left hand and, without breaking stride, let go, breaking the sticks at the bowler's end. Replays showed the batsman was short of his ground, and Hyderabad's chase of a Delhi total that was modest at best was off to a poor start.

In a spin

Ball in hand, Nadeem struck in his very first over, Parthiv Patel scooping it back to the bowler while trying to turn it towards square leg. Nadeem almost got Hanuma Vihari but saw the ball fingered over the long-off fence by Kaul, but snared the big fish with his final delivery, Cameron White stepping out only to be completely beaten, Kedar Jadhav completing a simple stumping.

If it was Nadeem in the field, with the bat it was Kedar Jadhav who lent some amount of respectability to the Daredevils' total. Without his 20-ball 30, a cameo that included two maximums, Delhi would have, given the horrendous start they had, almost surely fallen short of the three-figure mark.

The man almost everyone at the Kotla had come to watch sported a jersey without a number. But even before Virender Sehwag had taken strike, Dale Steyn had inflicted a major blow - David Warner, coming off consecutive half-centuries, lobbed it straight to mid-on, and Delhi, for the third time in four matches, had lost its first wicket in the opening over without a run on the board.

Sehwag's comeback was not entirely anticlimactic. A thick edge off Ishant Sharma flew wide of the slips to the third man boundary; Thisara Perera's first ball was sliced through backward point for another four. But the magic touch was missing; the next ball saw a swing and a miss; the ball after, another thick edge that flew down to third man.

The immediate impact of the explosive opener that Delhi were in such desperate need of didn't seem to be coming.

On Friday, having been picked over the mid-wicket fence for a six by Mahela Jayawardene, Ishant, by now quite used to being a visitor in his own backyard during this time of the year, switched to the end from which Steyn had started off with a wicket maiden - and unleashed upon the pitch his trademark glare after a ball stayed suspiciously low.

The switch worked almost immediately - Jayawardene skied one to Steyn at mid-on; the very next ball saw the demise of Sehwag, whose slash at a wide one from Ishant only went as far as Cameron White, who snapped it up with a good dive from first slip. Three down with just 26 on the board in the fifth over, and with just one specialist batsman remaining, Delhi were already staring down the barrel.