When Sehwag gets going, its hard to stop him. And Hyderabad found that today. Riding on his destructive display of T20 batting, which left him just 6 runs short of a hundred, Delhi romped to a nine wicket victory over Hyderabad. Shikhar Dhawan, who joined Sehwag after Gambhir's early dismissal played a near-pefect support act amidst the Sehwag show.
Delhi started off cautiously, but once Sehwag took strike, it was time for him to take off. There was almost an air of inevitability as Sehwag was always the man to give the charge. Once the bat left his blade, the Hyderabadis perhaps stooped in resignation. The 41-ball unbeaten 91, was not without that inch of luck, as Sehwag's fate looked almost sealed in the first ball he faced. It was just the umpire who denied Vaas the much needed breakthrough. After that, your innings is your own destiny - you make it or you break it. And Sehwag made it today.
There was a moment in the game when Gambhir's dismissal might have had the odd influence in the outcome, but it was almost non-existent. Sehwag's butchery came into the open, when he got stuck into Andrew Symonds and Sanjay Bangar, who lacked the pace and the skill to bother him. And to a batsman like Sehwag, width is his fodder and feed him over and over again, he'd still put it away with a blindfold. If Rohit Sharma produced a 26 run over earlier in the day, Sehwag went four runs better with 30. He just tore Symonds apart with a series of arrogant and beligerant strokeplay - perhaps giving the Aussie a taste of his own medicine. Its tough to compare the innings with the T20 genius of McCullum or the way Mike Hussey paced his knock, but Sehwag's knock had its own charm. It got you to the edge of the seat everytime the bat met the ball.
While Sehwag might have hogged all the limelight, there was another man who came of age for the second match in the row. Shikhar Dhawan, who followed up his brilliant attacking strokeplay of 58* with a neat little 25*, was the key to Sehwag's innings and Delhi's charge. His strike-rate may not have stuck to T20 norms, but his composure against the likes of Vaas and Symonds was commendable.
Delhi are hitting a purple patch for the moment. They may not have Shah Rukh Khan or Priety Zinta to charm the crowds, but to their credit they have eleven men, who love playing for each other, and also love winning. For Hyderabad, its back to the drawing board for now. Their tacts have gone awry - the balance of their side, just falling away and one win and that might just get them going.
Earlier, what started off as a star-studded clash between Hyderabad and Delhi fizzled out after the home team's big names failed to turn up the numbers one would commonly expect of them. It was upto Rohit Sharma, the young Indian batsman who's been rated quite highly after his exploits in the Aussie tri-series, then produced a late rescue act, that firstly gave his side something to bowl at, and more importantly - a shower of boundaries to keep the crowd going. The hosts finished with a score of 142/8 after staring down the barrel at one stage at 82/6.
His brutal 66 off 36 balls gave a touch of respectability to Hyderabad's total, which once looked like falling apart thanks to some crafty display of seam bowling by the Delhi pack, led by none-other than Glenn McGrath and Mohammad Asif - in effect - the mentor and the mentoree. Asif, dented the hosts early with two quick and important wickets, Gilchrist and Laxman - both caught leaden-footed on the crease as the ball crashed through their defences. And, that in effect seemed like the best way to put the break on Hyderabad's scoring, which never took off. Gilchrist showed signs of taking off when he flicked Asif through mid-wicket for a huge six, but fell soon after.
Hyderabad were then pegged back by another twin-strike, this time from Sri Lankan all-rounder Farveez Maharoof, who bowled in the channel, and did ever so well to get Symonds poking at one outside the off-stump, to which Karthik responded brilliantly to pouch it. Once Hyderabad lost wickets consistently, there was no way back. With half the side back in the dug-out at 60, a fightback was hardly something one could imagine of. And then walked Sharma - confident in his demeanour and brutal with his execution. After beginning his innings with singles here and there, just to get his juices flowing, Sharma's innings seamlessly matured into a perfect T20 knock. With wickets tumbling in numbers at the other end, Sharma then decided to take the attack all by himself. He then bumped into Maharoof, with an over, that incredibly read as 6,6,4,4,4,2 - 26 runs off that massive over - that stood between embarrassment and respectability for the hosts.
Alas ! His innings couldn't go the distance, holing out to a young Glenn McGrath in the deep. But for Hyderabad supporters, Rohit might have done his job. Arjun Yadav, known more as Shivlal's son, did manage to break the shackles a wee-bit, but could not drag his stay beyond 12 runs. Drama has been the theme of the IPL so far, with something happening in every game played. And it came this time in the penultimate ball of the innings as Yo Mahesh, bowled a beamer to Chaminda Vaas, and quite miraculously, the ball sailed over the cover-point boundary for a massive six. And wait, thats not done yet. It was a no-ball, which the square leg umpire quite rightly spotted. End of Hyderabad's innings, with a decent 143 run target set for the visitors. On to the bowlers now...