Knight Riders outgun Daredevils
Sunil Narine scalps four wickets as Gambhirís men post six-wicket victory in opening game
A Brett Lee scorcher that flattened Unmukt Chand’s timber off the first ball of the match gave a flying start to Kolkata Knight Riders’ title defence, and they seldom let the momentum slip to emerge a six-wicket winner over Delhi Daredevils here on Wednesday.
That Lee rocket set the platform for the Knight Riders before their slower bowlers – Sunil Narine and Rajat Bhatia – stymied the Daredevils’ line-up with spot-on bowling to restrict the visitors to 128 all out in 20 overs.
Kolkata didn’t sweat much before going past the target in 18.4 overs in the first match of the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League.
Only skipper Mahela Jayawardene (66, 52b, 8x4, 1x6) showed spunk for Delhi, notching up a fluent fifty while the rest struggled against Narine, who took four wickets conceding just 13 runs, and Bhatia, who exploited the sluggishness of the surface to the hilt.
There were a few big-hitters in Delhi batting line-up such as David Warner, Andre Russel, Irfan Pathan and Manpreet Juneja but none of them managed to put into use their bazookas on the night.
Warner and Russel’s struggles highlighted the plight of Daredevils, who were without the injured Virender Sehwag on the day.
Just when the Australian left-hander began to flex his muscles, Kolkata skipper Gautam Gambhir introduced Narine, and the West Indies off-spinner brought rewards immediately.
Warner, who was all at sea against R Ashwin in the recent Test series, once again failed to master spin, this time edging Narine to Kallis at first slip in trying to steer the ball.
Russel had little clue about what Narine was bowling. His tortured eight-ball stay for four runs ended when he offered the simplest of return catches to his West Indian team-mate. However, Russel couldn’t have been blamed because not many in the Delhi ranks figured out Narine’s variations.
Jayawardene though played a silken-smooth innings, a master class on how to bat on such pitches. His trademark flowing drives and wristy flicks embellished the innings, while a glide over slip off Lee to the ropes revealed his innovative side. But he lacked a solid partner this night, and his 44-run stand with Warner for the second was the highest for Delhi in their innings.
Knight Riders’ chase got off to a sedate start as Irfan bowled a maiden against Manvinder Bisla, indicating a tight punch-up.
But Gambhir broke the shackles in the third over the innings, milking a four and six off
Irfan’s successive deliveries. It was archetypal Gambhir. The southpaw shimmied down the deck to chip Irfan over point for a boundary and then he bettered the effort the next ball, launching the Baroda man over long-on for a six.
The knock (42, 29b) was not big in numbers but it came at the right time for Gambhir as the Delhi man was going through an immense struggle recently for runs.
The dismissal of Gambhir, given leg before to Johan Botha by Simon Taufel when the ball seemed headed down the leg, gave Daredevils a small foothold. Left-arm spinner Shahabaz Nadeem then dismissed Manoj Tiwary to push the home side a couple of steps back. But the quick dismissals were only a small aberration as Eoin Morgan, who warmed the bench for most part of last season, and Yusuf Pathan carried the Knight Riders home without further trouble.
As Morgan collected the winning run off Botha, the Eden Gardens crowd began to chant “KKR, KKR”. It was celebration time for Shah Rukh Khan’s Bollywood brigade as well, with the KKR owner basking in the spotlight.
Narine, fittingly, was adjudged the man of the match.
Delhi Daredevils: Unmukt Chand b Lee 0 (1b); David Warner c Kallis b Narine 21 (19b, 4x4); Mahela Jayawardene c Narine b Lee 66 (52b, 8x4, 1x6); Manpreet Juneja c Shukla b Balaji 8 (8b, 1x4); Naman Ojha c Lee b Bhatia 9 (9b, 1x4); Johan Botha lbw Bhatia 7 (6b, 1x4); Irfan Pathan c Tiwary b Narine 4 (7b); Andre Russel c&b Narine 4 (8b); Shahbaz Nadeem (run out) 4 (8b); Ashish Nehra c Shukla b Narine 0 (1b); Umesh Yadav (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (B-1, W-4) 5; Total (all out, 20 overs) 128
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Chand), 2-44 (Warner), 3-59 (Juneja), 4-79 (Ojha), 5-88 (Botha), 6-97 (Pathan), 7- 113 (Russel), 8-125 (Jayawardene), 9-128 (Nehra).
Bowling: Brett Lee 4-0-40-2 (w-1), Jacques Kallis 3-0-23-0 (w-2), L Balaji 4-0-20-1, Sunil Narine 4-0-13-4, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 1-0-8-0.
Power Play 1-6: 45/2.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Manvinder Bisla c Chand b Nehra 4 (9b, 1x4); Gautam Gambhir lbw Botha 42 (29b, 5x4, 1x6); Jacques Kallis c Chand b Nadeem 23 (20b, 5x4); Manoj Tiwary c Ojha b Nadeem 23 (23b, 2x4); Eoin Morgan (not out) 14 (15b, 1x4); Yusuf Pathan (not out) 18 (16b, 1x6); Extras (LB-2, W-3) 5; Total (4 wkts, 18.4 overs) 129.
†Fall of wickets: 1-5 (Bisla), 2-52 (Kallis) 3-93 (Gambhir), 4-99 (Tiwary). Bowling: Irfan Pathan 2-1-15-0, Ashish Nehra 3-0-20-1, Umesh Yadav 3-0-23-0 (w-2), Shahbaz Nadeem 4-0-22-2, Johan Botha 3.4-0-23-1, Andre Russel 3-0-24-0 (w-1).
Power Play: 1-6: 46/1