RAIPUR: A counter-attack in the middle order from David Warner and a miserly 18th over in the chase from Umesh Yadav brought some relief for Delhi Daredevils in the form of a victory in the battle of the bottom-placed teams this season. The win was only their second, as the Pune Warriors bowlers faltered after making inroads into Daredevils' batting order and the batsmen struggled to step up when it mattered against some impressive fast bowling at the death in the chase. Warriors now find themselves at the bottom of the table in what is a third poor season in a row.
Raipur is further from Delhi than it is from Pune (1253 as opposed to 1025 kilometres), but on its IPL debut the crowd was overwhelmingly pro-Daredevils and got the result they desired. Warner restored their faith in the side with a surge he launched in the 13th over of the Daredevils innings and retained the tone during a stand of 53 with Kedar Jadhav that took his side to 164. Yuvraj Singh and Luke Wright looked on track to chase that down until they ran into Umesh, whose skillful use of alterations in length and pace accounted for both wickets and all but consigned Warriors to their seventh defeat.
Warner was charged with the responsibility of leading Daredevils' recovery after the loss of Virender Sehwag and Unmukt Chand in a space of three deliveries. He did that successfully by reserving the harshest treatment for a spate of poor deliveries offered to him by the Warriors bowlers, who generously pitched on a length. And he was powerful enough to comfortably clear boundaries longer than there have been at other venues this season.
He began with a clean, straight six off legspinner Rahul Sharma, then pulled IPL debutant Kane Richardson over deep midwicket. Ashok Dinda's failed attempts at bowling the yorker resulted in three fours drilled down the ground in one over, before Richardson, in the penultimate over, was struck, again, over wide long-on and his head. The 19th over cost 21 runs, including another straight six by Jadhav, who, too, was severe on the length ball. The last five overs yielded 63 runs, 34 of those from the last two.
Robin Uthappa and Aaron Finch have been a productive opening pair and their 72-run stand gave Warriors a strong platform. Both were dismissed, Finch albeit unluckily, by deliveries bowled down the leg side by Irfan Pathan in the 11th over, but Yuvraj and Wright batted fluently. Yuvraj unleashed a stylish drive and cut off Irfan in his next over, collected a couple of boundaries past fine leg, while Wright flat-batted the seamers past the ropes on two occasions.
The stand was worth 50 in 45 balls at the start of the 18th over, when 37 runs were needed. Umesh began with two dot balls to Wright, one of them a yorker, before slipping in a slower one to deceive the batsman, who holed out. Yuvraj was only able to score two runs off the next two, and top-edged one straight to deep square leg when Umesh dug in a short delivery to finish the over. Steven Smith can be a finisher, but 35 runs off two overs was a task that proved beyond him.