The exit of Punjab also means that Chennai, sitting nervously in fourth position, still remain in the fray for a place in the playoffs. If Bangalore lose to Hyderabad on Sunday, the defending champions will get an unexpected shot at a hat-trick of titles. So, it’s going to be a nervous Sunday for them. With Punjab’s exit, Mumbai too qualified for the playoffs, leaving the last qualifying berth for either Bangalore or Chennai.
On a track that had some juice early on, Punjab batsmen ought have been watchful initially. But they chose to take on the Delhi pacers and paid the penalty. A target of 142 proved easy meat for Delhi. Both the Punjab bowling and fielding wilted under the onslaught by David Warner and Co as they romped home with 10 balls to spare.
Disaster struck Punjab as soon as they were inserted by stand-in Delhi skipper Mahela Jayawardene. After a first ball wide from Mornie Morkel, the next 12 balls failed to produce a run. Umesh Yadav accounted for in-form Mandeep Singh his first ball, which flew off the length, took the edge of the bat and landed into wicketkeeper’s gloves. The ball was still climbing when Naman Ojha held it head-high. It gave a clear indication of what the Punjab batsmen could expect over the next few overs.
If Punjab were able to 141/8 after being 20/4 in the first six overs, it was due to Siddharth Chitnis, Azhar Mahmood and Gurkeerat Mann batting with determination and courage.
At the start Morkel and Yadav seemed like they were bowling at Perth. Yadav picked up three early wickets and Morkel, after one in the opening spell of three overs, returned to grab three in his last over. He accounted for Mahmood, Gurkeerat and Piyush Chawla to end with the best figures of 4/20, a shade better than Yadav’s 3/19.