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Warriors rolled over Daredevils in a battle to avoid the wooden spoon on Sunday, and were thus spared a last-place finish following a 38-run win at home. Pune's fourth victory in 16 matches this year pulled Delhi irrevocably down to the lowermost rung, the principal moving forces in that direction being Aaron Finch’s 34-ball 52 and Luke Wright’s 23-ball 44.
The pair piloted Pune to 172 after they chose to bat and enabled U.P. left-arm spinner Ali Murtaza (3/16 in four) to take key wickets in the chase, thereby dismantling it. All-rounder Angelo Mathews also contributed a quick, unbeaten 30 and chipped in with three wickets as Delhi caved in to finish on 134/9, in firm and unquestioned possession of the wooden spoon.
Successful though he was, Murtaza should rightfully claim credit for only one scalp. Delhi was jolted early when David Warner was relieved of his misery in the middle by Wayne Parnell. Fellow opener Mahela Jayawardene, who’d received a stumping reprieve on the previous delivery, played a horrible shot to be caught at point off Murtaza.
Virender Sehwag was taken trying to clear the off-side; and only Bharath Chipli, trapped ‘lbw’, was a genuine victim of Murtaza's faster ball. And when Ashoke Dinda got Ben Rohrer to play on, Delhi were effectively out of the winning scheme of things at 64/5 in the tenth.
Pune’s innings was bookended by two knocks of similar intensity. Finch fired at the top and Wright, with an even more murderous cameo, ensured that a flurry of wickets in the middle did not lead to total collapse. Robin Uthappa (24) provided his captain company before he became the only victim of the most expensive bowler on display: Umesh Yadav.
The fast bowler was first flayed by Finch for masterly sixes over the leg-side field, after which Finch and Angelo Mathews ripped him apart for 24 runs in the penultimate over. Wright’s effervescence was all the stood between Pune and another deflation to a substandard score when, in a testing spell, Siddharth Kaul removed the free-flowing Finch.
Another two quick wickets came in the form of Manish Pandey and the woefully out-of-touch Yuvraj Singh putting the home side on the backfoot. But the young England all-rounder and Mathews blazed 71 in just 6.1 overs. Yadav took a major beating as he went for 49 in his last three, having conceded only three in his opener.