It is fast turning out to be the league of domestic men. After international players, both Indian and overseas, led the parade in the first couple of years of the IPL, the domestic consolidation is clearly happening.
After Paul Valthaty for Kings XI Punjab and Ambati Rayudu for Mumbai Indians, it is now the turn of Sunny Sohal for Deccan Chargers. The 23-year-old Punjab batsman, better known for his blind aggression earlier, is prospering after becoming more selective in his stroke-play.
While Valthaty has shone in partnership with skipper Adam Gilchrist and Rayudu likewise under the guidance of Sachin Tendulkar, Sohal has had his captain Kumar Sangakkara for company. And that eventually left the Delhi Daredevils chasing too big a total and grappling with their own batting demons on a slow Ferozshah Kotla pitch.
Sohal, Sanga effect
It was the second win in five outings for the Hyderabad side while Delhi have won just one in four so far. The Deccan Chargers put up a formidable 168 for four, thanks to Sohal and Sangakkara, who rattled up a 92-run second-wicket partnership off 45 balls. On the slow pitch, it was vital to play oneself in and Sohal did exactly that, running quick singles to hand the strike to Sangakkara and then neatly picking his spots to score on settling down.
With South African speedster Morne Morkel looking subdued, Delhi appeared below par on the field. Sangakkara was in command from the moment he walked in after Shikhar Dhawan played Irfan Pathan onto the stumps. He launched into left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, plundering 16 runs off his first over. Nadeem, a promising talent from Jharkhand, came back well though, giving away just eight runs in his next two overs and also having Sohal caught. His second spell played an important role in Daredevils gaining some sort of control over the scoring rate.
Harmeet's big catch
Another journeyman player from Punjab, medium-pacer Harmeet Singh, shook Daredevils as they set off on a tough chase. He first had Sehwag caught at point and then Finch caught behind to leave Daredevils in the dumps. Warner made a steady 51 after Venugopal fell. And once Irfan went cheaply, it was all over.