The freefall of the best team in the IPL league phase last season continued with the Delhi Daredevils the latest side to hand the Kings XI Punjab a scathing loss in IPL 2015.
Needing a win to stay in contention for a place in the playoffs, Kings XI Punjab put in another abject batting performance, collapsing to 10/4 and 45/6, to eventually finish on a never-gonna-be-enough 118 for eight in their 20 overs.
Nathan Coulter-Nile was the main man with the ball for the Delhi Daredevils, playing in lavender to raise cancer awareness, taking four wickets for just 20, but it was Zaheer Khan (4-0-17-2) who stole the spotlight, producing a tremendous comeback after nearly a year from injury.
Zaheer first picked up Virender Sehwag, who got the loudest cheers at the Feroz Shah Kotla, with the KXIP opener outer edging one to JP Duminy at shortish point. Zaheer would then scalp Manan Vohra, caught behind, in his next over, after Duminy had picked up the crucial wicket of Shaun Marsh with his first ball to leave KXIP in plenty of trouble.
Trouble would just not go away form Kings XI Punjab, with Wriddhiman Saha then gifting his wicket away to Coulter-Nile with a prod outside off, before George Bailey, after a 27-run partnership with David Miller, fell lbw to Amit Mishra.
Thisara Perera, in for Mitchell Johnson, could not get going either, leaving it all for Miller (42, 41b, 4x4, 1x6) and Akshar Patel (22, 26b, 1x6) to do. The duo did reasonably well under the circumstances, putting on 57 runs for the seventh wicket to, at least, ensure the score would go past 100.
But then, 119 was never going to trouble the DD batsmen, even on a pitch that was a bit two-paced, with variable bounce. The only chance for KXIP was early wickets, but Shreyas Iyer and Mayank Agarwal shut those hopes away in a flash, with an outstanding, controlled, yet quite quick 106-run partnership in a shade over 12 overs.
There was no penetration from the KXIP bowlers, neither any venom without Mitchell Johnson, and it was all too easy for Iyer and Agarwal, who needed a score of note after tailing off in IPL 2015 following a decent start.
Iyer (54, 40b, 4x4, 3x6) failed to stay with Agarwal (52 n.o., 40b, 6x4, 1x6) until the end, holing out in the deep to give fellow Mumbaikar Shardul Thakur his first IPL wicket, but that was as much as consolation came for the Kings XI Punjab on another miserable day out in the cricket field.
The Delhi Daredevils ran down the target in just 13.5 overs, losing just a single wicket, to move to the fourth spot in the points table. Kings XI, who finished top of the table last season, are rock bottom.