(The Times Of India)
A home ground is the fortress of most Indian Premier League teams – be it defending champions Chennai Super Kings or Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals.
The Ferozeshah Kotla, though, has proved to be the mauling ground for the Delhi Daredevils this season. Virender Sehwag’s Daredevils were handed their fifth defeat in six matches here, this time by the Kochi Tuskers Kerala, who cantered to a seven-wicket win with five overs to spare on Monday.
Centre-wicket or side-wicket – nothing seems to make any difference to the beleaguered home team’s fortunes. Delhi have relied heavily on their opening pair of Sehwag and David Warner throughout this season but once they failed to fire it was a struggle to get to 140/6 on an easy-paced Kotla track.
The Tuskers jumped over the Devils into sixth spot with eight points from nine games. Delhi now face an unlikely prospect of winning five matches in a row to have any chance of qualifying for the knock-out stage.
The modest 141-run target for Kochi was made a mere dawdle after a tremendous assault by Brendon McCullum. The Kiwi batsmen smashed 37 off 19 balls (5×4, 2×6) and gave special attention to Umesh Yadav.
The Daredevils bowler’s only over went for 23 as a waist-high full toss went off the glove to fine-leg for a six while the subsequent delivery was smashed over mid-wicket for another six.
The 50-run mark was breached in just the fourth over and although Kochi lost three wickets in a hurry, the run-rate was always well under control. Parthiv Patel (37 n.o., 31b, 5×4) and Brad Hodge (24, 13b, 3×4, 1×6) exacted sweet revenge for the defeat in Kochi on Saturday.
Sehwag looked in ominous form as he creamed the first ball for four to the short cover boundary. The alarm bells were set off when he deposited debutant Prashanth Parmeswaran’s first delivery into the long-off stand.
The 25-year-old Kerala left-arm seamer had the last laugh though as he induced an edge a couple of deliveries later as Sehwag departed for 15 (9b, 2×4, 1×6).
Delhi Daredevils: Virender Sehwag (capt), Morne Morkel, Irfan Pathan, Travis Birt, Roelof van der Merwe, Ajit Agarkar, Y Venugopal Rao, Umesh Yadav, Naman Ojha (wk), David Warner, Yogesh Nagar.
Kochi Tuskers Kerala: Mahela Jayawardene (capt), Brendon McCullum, Parthiv Patel (wk), Brad Hodge, Ravindra Jadeja, Raiphi Gomez, Rudra Pratap Singh, Sreesanth, Michael Klinger, R Vinay Kumar, P Parameswaran.