Following the curtain-raiser at Eden Gardens between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians on Wednesday, the IPL’s second match of the season featured the Delhi Daredevils traveling to Chennai to take on the Super Kings.
Besides the absence of Angelo Mathews and Quinton de Kock, the Daredevils opened the season with a solid lineup featuring Mayank Agarwal, CM Gautam, Shreyas Iyer, JP Duminy, Yuvraj Singh, Albie Morkel, Kedar Jadhav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Amit Mishra, Domnic Joseph, and Imran Tahir.
The Daredevils won the toss and elected to bowl first at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. The two-time IPL champion Super Kings came out with Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum batting first. McCullum had a bit of a repeat of his World Cup Final showing as he was caught by Yuvraj Singh on his second ball and dismissed after just four runs. Smith had a better start racing to twelve runs from five deliveries, but was caught on 34 by Nathan Coulter-Nile who put together an excellent bowling attack taking three wickets off his four overs. With Suresh Raina and Brendon McCullum both gone for four, Faf du Plessis stepped to the crease and put together a good innings, scoring 32 off 24 balls.
The Daredevils spinners, Imran Tahir, JP Duminy, and Amit Mishra were in form though. Tahir went 1/27, while Duminy and Mishra were 1/15 and 1/21. Jadeja managed just 17 off 18 balls while MS Dhoni was able to knock in 30 runs off 27 balls. The story of the inning was the success of the Daredevils bowling attack which left the visitors needing to chase down 150 to win.
Unfortunately for Delhi fans, the batting did not start particularly well for the Daredevils. CM Gautam was caught by DJ Bravo after just four runs off five balls and some very questionable batting techniques. Delhi were reduced to 20-2 when Agarwal was caught by Nehra. Chennai struck again soon after when Faf du Plessis made a great catch on Shreyas Iyer leaving Delhi at 39-3.
With seven wickets remaining, most Daredevils fans were hoping and very much expecting to see JP Duminy or Yuvraj Singh come to the crease. Instead, Kedar Jadhav was sent out to bat. The absence of the Daredevil’s captain, JP Duminy, and most expensive off-season acquisition, Yuvraj Singh, made fans and commentators alike question what coach Gary Kirsten was trying to do. In the end, a gutsy batting performance by Albie Morkel kept the Daredevils in the match until the final ball. Needing a six from the final ball to win, Morkel came up just short, knocking in four.
It’s an old cliche, but in this case it seems very fair. The Super Kings didn’t so much win this match as the Daredevil’s gave it away. Having to chase down 150 should not have been as difficult as the Daredevils made it for themselves, especially when they decided to use Yuvraj and JP at 6 and 7 instead of 3 and 4.
For the Daredevils fan, this was a match that made you feel as though the team “snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.” The good bowling and fielding performance away from home against a tough Super Kings side left the Daredevils in a good position to win. Even with the seemingly brainless decision of batting Yuvraj and Duminy so low was nearly erased by the bat of Morkel, who finished 73*.
In the end, the Daredevils lack of a solid partnership cost them this game. It is only the first match of the season so there is no reason to start talking “must-win”, but that will be a very disappointing loss for the men in blue. After last season, the Daredevils needed to come out and make a statement and unfortunately for them, the questionable coaching decisions and lack of a solid partnership with Morkel means they start the season 0-1.
It will be interesting to see what the batting lineup looks like on Sunday when the Daredevils take on the Rajasthan Royals in Delhi. The Daredevils will be hoping to get the batting back on track and perhaps the return of Mathews will do just that for them.