Virender Sehwag played his trademark punishing knock after little known left-arm spinner Pawan Negi's brilliant effort with the ball as Delhi Daredevils juggernaut kept on rolling with a thumping six-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League, in Jaipur, on Tuesday.
This was Daredevils' eighth win in 10 matches as they now have 16 points and are assured of a berth in the knockout stages.
Sehwag blasted 73 off only 38 balls as Daredevils knocked off the target of 142 with as many as 28 balls to spare.
Kevin Pietersen (36, 34 balls, 3x4, 1x6) also ended his IPL campaign on a high as he added 96 for the second wicket with Sehwag who smashed 12 boundaries and a six.
This was after young Negi claimed a career-best haul of four for 18 as he ran through the Royals top and middle-order after Rahul Dravid (57) and Ajinkya Rahane (42) had added 71 runs in only 8.3 overs. From 71 for no loss, Royals slumped to 95 for five and their hopes of posting a sizeable total were dashed.
The Daredevils innings began on a disappointing note when Mahela Jayawardene (0) was trapped leg before by Ankit Chavan off the third delivery but there was no stopping Sehwag.
He started off with a couple of boundaries off Pankaj Singh and then launched into Chavan hitting him for three boundaries. The Nawab of Najafgarh punished each and every Rajasthan bowler as he reached his 50 off 21 balls. It was his fifth consecutive half century--- a record in this format. It came with a slashed six over third man off Pankaj's bowling.
Sehwag treated the bowlers with disdain and shots all around the wicket really confused the Royals bowlers as to which line and length they should bowl.
By the time Pietersen departed, the duo had added 96 runs and the match was in Daredevils' pocket. Sehwag continued with his boundary hitting spree and was out with only 11 required for a win.
Earlier, when Rajasthan batted, current 'Orange Cap' holder Ajinkya Rahane (42, 32 balls, 7x4) and skipper Rahul Dravid (57, 43 balls, 7x4) added 71 runs from only 8.3 overs before Negi dismissed Rahane, Shane Watson (8), Brad Hodge (1) and Ashok Menaria (1) to get Daredevils right back in the match.
Even though Dravid completed his half-century in only 35 balls, the Royals had lost momentum courtesy a brilliant Negi and never recovered from that batting collapse.
Rahane, who has been in sublime form during this edition started off from where he had left against Daredevils in the match at the Kotla. The third over of the innings -- second from Irfan Pathan saw the left-arm medium pacer hit for four boundaries. With skipper Dravid also playing confidently, runs flowed from the blades of the two batsmen. The 50 came at the end of five overs and Royals were off to a flier.
Daredevils' find-of-the-season Shahbaz Nadeem didn't bowl a good first spell but another youngster --- Delhi boy Negi rose to the occasion as he got four wickets in a space of three overs. First it was Rahane who needlessly played a reverse sweep only to offer a simple catch Sehwag at point.
Shane Watson (8) announced his arrival at the crease with a big six off Nadeem but was cleaned up when he went for a cross-batted heave to give Negi his second wicket.
In between, Owais Shah (1) was hurried into a shot by a quicker delivery from Umesh Yadav that popped as Naman Ojha took a simple catch behind the stumps.
Negi had Rajasthan reeling when he struck twin blows in his last over when he induced Brad Hodge (1) to play cut that landed straight into Sehwag's hands and Ashok Menaria (1) top-edged one to Kevin Pietersen at long-on. Suddenly from 71 for no loss in 8.3 overs, Rajasthan were down in the dumps at 95 for five at the end of 13 overs. The pint-sized spinner maintained a good line and got a bit of turn and bounce which also helped his cause.