Mohali:Skipper Gautam Gambhir led the batting charge with a brilliant 54-ball 72 as Delhi Daredevils opened their Indian Premier League campaign on a winning note snatching a five-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab in a thrilling encounter on Saturday.
Delhi first restricted the Punjab side to 142 for nine, thanks to nice bowling by pacer duo of Dirk Nannes (2/12) and Farveez Maharoof (2/37), and then overhauled the target with just one ball to spare at the floodlit PCA Stadium.
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Gambhir, who raced to his half-century off 40 balls, hit nine boundaries and one six, while he got good support from Mithun Manhas, who came out with an unbeaten 31 off 24 balls.
With 17 runs required from the last two overs, Manhas first cracked a four off Yusuf Abdulla and then Gambhir hit him for a huge six over the long-off region.
But left-arm pacer Irfan Pathan struck in the final over, off which Delhi needed four runs to win, removing Gambhir as Mahela Jayawardene took a well-judged catch.
With the scores leveled and two balls to go, Manhas finished the match with a brilliant square cut that sent the ball to the fence. Delhi made 146 for five.
However, chasing the 143-run target Delhi started on a disastrous note as they lost two wickets in the second over of the innings in the form of opener Virender Sehwag (8) and their Sri Lankan import Tillakaratne Dilshan (0).
Punjab paceman S Sreesanth first removed Sehwag in the second ball of his first over with Mahela Jayawardene pouching a nice catch and then claimed Dilshan just three balls later to leave Delhi tottering at 10 for two.
AB de Villiers (7) also failed to accompany Gambhir for long.
Gambhir then got the company of Dinesh Karthik, who hit thrice to the fence, and the duo added 34 before Karthik's lofted shot off Abdulla found Irfan Pathan, who had a tumbling catch at long-off region.
When the game was interestingly poised, Gambhir and Manhas, who struck two fours, added 61 runs which laid the cornerstone of their win.
For Punjab, Sreesanth took two wickets for 24 runs, while Pathan and Abdulla scalped one each.
Earlier Punjab was put in to bat and Ravi Bopara waged a lone battle as his 48-ball 56 helped Kings XI Punjab gather 142 for nine.
Bopara, who struck seven fours and a six, joined hands with Pathan (21) to pull the Punjab side out of the pit when they were struggling at 44 for four after 6.1 overs.
Besides the duo, only two others -- captain Kumar Sangakkara (17) and Sreesanth (15) -- could manage a double-digit as the Punjab team kept losing wickets in regular intervals.
Punjab suffered an early loss when opener Manvinder Bisla (2) was found off the crease by Manhas in the second over of the game.
Sangakkara then tried to give the team recovery with Bopara, but the Sri Lankan was removed by Maharoof in the sixth over and then the bowler struck again in the same over by dismissing attacking left-hander Yuvraj Singh (4) cheaply.
Jayawardene (0) also failed to live up to the expectation of the team and fell to Delhi paceman Pradeep Sangwan in his first ball.
Pathan, who hit two fours during his 16-ball stay, then paired up with Bopara in the middle and added 60 runs before the former was removed by Dilshan in the 14th over.
The Punjab innings dealt a major blow when Yo Mahesh dismissed Bopara in the 16th over with Manhas pouching a well-judged catch.
After Bopara's departure, other Punjab batsmen, including Mohammad Kaif (6), Piyush Chawla (5) failed to build any resistance to the Delhi bowling attack as the run-rate never improved thereafter.
Besides Nannes and Maharoof, Sangwan (1/32), Amit Mishra (1/23), Mahesh (1/23) and Dilshan (1/7) bagged one wicket each to ensure the opponent batsmen never enjoy their stay at the crease.
To the end, Sreesanth's 14-ball 15, which he made with the help of two fours, powered the Punjab team to cross the 140-run mark, but the total later proved insufficient.