Delhi Daredevils’ IPL struggles continued as they lost to Chennai Super Kings by an agonising one-run margin in their 2015 opener.
The Daredevils finished bottom of the table in 2014, defeated in 12 of their 14 games under the captaincy of jettisoned England man Kevin Pietersen.
And Delhi, now skippered by South Africa’s JP Duminy, suffered again at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday, falling just short of their target despite a valiant unbeaten half-century from Albie Morkel (73 from 55 balls).
Australia paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-30) helped the Daredevils restrict Chennai to 150-7 from their 20 overs, but last term’s basement boys failed to get over the line when Morkel was unable to hit the last ball for six, leaving the side stranded on 149-9.
Chennai – who have made the knockout stages in each of the seven IPLs to date, wining the competition twice – plundered 16 from Morkel’s first over after being put into bat, Dwayne Smith (34 from 31) clubbing three boundaries.
However, the Super Kings were soon under the pump, with Brendon McCullum (4) and Suresh Raina (4) sent packing by Coulter-Nile, the former to a catch from Yuvraj Singh and the latter after his stumps were shattered.
Smith and Faf du Plessis (32 from 24) kept the scoreboard moving but Chennai were thankful to some lusty late blows from Dhoni (30 from 27) after they had been strangled by the Daredevils' spinners.
Delhi openers CM Gautam (4) and Mayank Agarwal (11) came and went in the visitors’ reply – Man of the Match Ashish Nehra (3-25) nabbing both wickets in the third over – while Sheyras Iyer (7) had a rush of blood to the head shortly after, clothing Nehra to extra cover where Du Plessis took a fine catch.
Morkel and Kedar Yadav (20) added a sedate 48 for the fourth wicket in eight overs but when Yadav picked out point and star men Yuvraj (9) and Duminy (5) – batting surprisingly low down at six and seven respectively – failed, Delhi’s hopes seemingly all-but extinguished.
Morkel smoked the fourth ball of Dwayne Bravo's final over for six to keep things interesting, but he could only notch four from the last delivery as Chennai secured a nail-biting triumph.
"Delhi stuffed this up; it was an honourable loss but they really should have won it. Why Duminy and Yuvraj were batting six and seven I don’t understand – I want answers from the captain and coach – and even though Morkel nearly won it for Delhi, he lost all momentum in the middle. That cost them."
"The difference when it got tight was that Chennai know how to win games and that Dehli don’t. Delhi were searching for a way to win and perhaps were guilty of overthinking by tinkering with the batting line-up."