It was expected to be a joyride, and until the 19th over, it indeed was one. Delhi had reduced Services to 55-9 and magic was in the air. After that, however, Delhi misplaced their magic wand — chucked it away, rather, as they turned a walk in the park into a marathon.
Delhi eventually won by eight wickets — a rather flattering scoreline, to be honest — thanks to wondrous spells of bowing by Ashish Nehra and debutant Pradeep Sangwan. If Delhi still had their hearts in their mouth for a fleeting moment, it was of their own doing.
First, they failed to deliver the coup-de-grace and allowed Tahir Khan and No. 11 Pankaj Kumar to put add 56 for the last wicket — courtesy two dropped catches — as Services managed to reach 111.
Then, while chasing, they decided to break a combination that had served them fabulously in the last two matches — Gautam Gambhir and Aakash Chopra had forged century partnerships in two matches — and opted for captain Virender Sehwag and Mithun Manhas.
They got their comeuppance instantly as Sehwag was dismissed off the first ball of the innings as he slashed at a wide one by Fazil Mohammad, only to be gobbled at second slip. No. 3 Rajat Bhatia departed three balls later, his defence breached by a Fazil ripper.
Though Manhas and Shikhar Dhawan smoothed Delhi's nerves and ensured there were no further hiccups, Delhi had left themselves susceptible for a brief while owing to this decision.
Earlier, after electing to bat first, Services were clueless against the Delhi attack, frantically trying to merely stay afloat. Nehra and Sangwan were ruthless, claiming seven wickets between them.
Imran c Manhas b Nehra 0, Amitpal lbw b Nehra 0, Tahir not out 49, Yashpal b Sangwan 1, Jasvir lbw b Nehra 0, Sarabjit c Bisht b Bhandari 6, Mohanty lbw b Sangwan 1, Narinder c Bisht b Sangwan 6, Fazil c Tehlan (sub) b Bhandari 0, Karmakar c Bhatia b Sangwan 3, Pankaj c Bisht b Abhishek 33
Extras: (b-1, lb-4, nb-3, w-4) 12
Total: (all out, in 32.2 overs) 111
Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-7, 3-17, 4-18, 5-30, 6-37, 7-47 8-48, 9-55.
Bowling: Nehra 9-3-16-3, Sangwan 10-0-43-4, Bhandari 6-0-20-2, Sehwag 5-0-20-0, Abhishek 2.2-0-7-1.
Sehwag c Jasvir b Fazil 0, Manhas not out 55, Bhatia b Fazil 0, Dhawan not out 42; Extras: (w-7, nb-1, lb-2, b-6) 16
Total: (for 2 wkts, in 28.5 overs) 113
Fall of wkts: 1-0, 2-0.
Bowling: Fazil 9-2-24-2, Pankaj 6-0-19-0, Narinder 2.3-0.12-0, Karmakar 6.3-0-25-0, Mohanty 4.5-0-25-0.