Kings XI hang in there

Seven-run win over Delhi Daredevils keeps Punjab alive.

Scorecard | Match pictures | IPL spot-fixing

Miller: Another blistering cameo.DHARAMSALA: Even as allegations of spot fixing rocked India’s annual cricket bonanza, the rest of IPL machinery continued to function seamlessly, as if totally oblivious to the malaise it harbors within.

In scenic Dharamsala, not too far from the National capital where the three Rajasthan Royals offenders were detained, Kings XI Punjab bested amotivated Delhi Daredevils to keep alive their mathematical chances of making the play-offs stage.

This is supposing, of course, that the play-offs, and all other results and performances in this most-respectable competition have not already been fixed by perpetrators. No matter that; on Thursday in the rarefied atmosphere of the mountains, Kings posted a challenging 171/4 batting first, thanks to David Miller (44*) and Adam Gilchrist (42), and restricted the luckless Delhi outfit to 164 in a chase that never took off.

Ben Rohrer's 29-ball 49 raised visions of an improbable fightback by Delhi, but with 22 needed off the last over, leggie Piyush Chawla castled the dangerous batsman on the first ball and even a torrent of sixes from the bat of Morne Morkel wasn't enough to ward off defeat for his side. 
No respite

Daredevils re-jigged their batting order, sending Unmukt Chand to open with Jayawardene and promoting Irfan Pathan to No.3, but nothing worked as they fell to 12/3 in four overs against some difficult swing bowling by Praveen Kumar and Sandeep Sharma, who struck on successive deliveries by removing Pathan and David Warner, and later scalped Jayawardene.

The Delhi skipper received several lives, but was able to cash in only to the extent of a slow-paced 39. His ouster to Sandeep in the 17th over, with the required rate racing beyond 15, portended the end of the pursuit, and signaled another few days of fervent hope for Punjab.

Lucky Gilly

Gilchrist and Marsh powered their side ahead after they were sent in, but neither betrayed the kind of confidence that their scores indicate. Gilchrist received two reprieves in the field on his way to a 26-ball 42 (that included a brutal caning of Ashish Nehra), while Marsh barely middle anything, as the pair put on 53 within the Powerplay.

Delhi controlled proceedings hereafter. Pathan caught Gilly’s leading edge off his own bowling, Azhar Mahmood was taken brilliantly by Siddharth Kaul at the boundary. Punjab were 103/2 after 15 and the next four brought them 62. Marsh, used Umesh Yadav’s pace to thoroughly wallop him, before he was claimed by Morkel, and in came Miller to do his thing.

The South African smoked sixes off Yadav and Kaul, racing to a 24-ball 44 in the company of Rajagopala Sathish. Although Nehra returned to bowl a fine last over – conceding just six and picking up Sathish – the damage was done, and Delhi’s lack of motivation showed in the end.