Knight Riders soar to the top

Knight Riders soar to the top

Gambhirs men halt Delhi charge with clinical six-wicket victory at the Kotla

It was a happy homecoming for Gautam Gambhir. His team Kolkata Knight Riders not only defeated the mighty Delhi Daredevils by six wickets but also knocked them off the top of the table.

Kolkata Knight Riders’ Brendon McCullum slams one to the fence during his 56 against Delhi Daredevils in New Delhi on Monday. AFPKnight Riders now have 17 points from their 12 matches. Daredevils, after ruling the league for weeks, will have to be content at second position with 16 points from 11 matches.

Local boy and a former Daredevils star, Gambhir led from front, making 36 and effecting a crucial dismissal by running out Mahela Jayawardene. This after Delhi Daredevils chose to bat, only to muster 153 for 9.

Knight Riders prospered thanks mainly to an all-round show by Jacques Kallis (2/20 and 30). He first bowled tight to claim the prize wickets of Virender Sehwag and David Warner and later chipped in with the bat too. Knight Riders off-spinner Sunil Narine (2-23) also made an impression on the slow Ferozeshah Kotla track.

Knight Riders openers Gambhir and Brendon McCullum (56) made batting look easy as they preyed on the uninspiring Delhi bowling. The two had carved 68 runs and looked solid when Varun Aaron, bowling for the first time after an injury-induced break and stepping in place of Pawan Negi, gave Daredevils the breakthrough.

A short ball from Aaron came in sharply and Gambhir chopped it on to his stump. It was a good comeback by Aaron, whose previous delivery was hit by Gambhir straight to Umesh Yadav at third man, only to be dropped by him.

It was a smooth ride for the Knight Riders despite Kallis and McCullum leaving in quick succession, both perishing to top-edged shots. But it did not impact the fate of the match as man of the match Kallis and McCullum put the team on winning course, and closed out things with eight balls to spare.

Earlier, Warner (21) began his IPL in uncharacteristic style. He played out a maiden over from Brett Lee but the man in form, Sehwag (23), compensated for it by creaming Pradeep Sangwan for 17 runs. Sehwag’s aggression seemed to rub off on Warner, who returned to his usual self by lofting Lee to long-off for a six and a four to covers.

But Kallis played spoilsport. Introduced in the fourth over, he was pulled for a boundary by Sehwag in his third ball but the South African hit back immediately by trapping him leg before. Kallis then returned to inflict the second blow on Daredevils when he induced an edge from Warner and Brendon McCullum made no mistake in gobbling it up.

Jayawardene and a jaded Ross Taylor then joined hands to foster the Daredevils innings but runs were tough to come by. Kallis would have got his third wicket in the eighth over when Jayawardene’s edge went flying towards slip but McCullum spilled the chance.

The Sri Lankan, however, ran out of luck when he tried to go for a desperate single off Taylor’s weak placement. Gambhir at point was quick with a direct hit and Jayawardene was back in the hut in the 13th over.

All this while, Taylor had looked woefully out of touch. Sangwan ended his misery when Taylor tried to smash him out of the ground and Bhatia took an easy catch at long-off.

The rest of the Daredevils batting failed to fire with the exception of Irfan Pathan, who provided a late thrust with his 22-ball 36 (4x4, 1x6). But it proved futile against a motivated Knight Riders who executed a clinical win on a sultry night.

Score board

DELHI DAREDEVILS: David Warner c McCullum b Kallis 21, Virender Sehwag lbw Kallis 23, Mahela Jayawardene run out 30, Ross Taylor c Bhatia b Sangwan 16, Irfan Pathan st McCullum b Narine 36, Yogesh Nagar b Lee 10, Naman Ojha c Tiwary b Narine 2, Shahbaz Nadeem (not out) 0; Varun Aaron (run out) 1; Extras: (B-1, LB-2, W-11) 14. Total (for 9 wkts; 20 overs) 153.           
Fall of wickets: 1-40, 2-49, 3-95, 4-100, 5-125, 6-146, 7-152, 8-152, 9-153.
Bowling: Brett Lee 4-1-39-1, Pradeep Sangwan 4-0-42-1, Jacques Kallis 4-0-20-2, Sunil Narine 4-0-23-2, Rajat Bhatia 4-0-26-0.

KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS: Brendon McCullum c Sehwag b Yadav 56, Gautam Gambhir b Aaron 36, Jacques Kallis c Ojha b Yadav 30, Manoj Tiwary c Pathan b Morkel 8, Debabrata Das (not out) 1; Extras: (B-4, LB-5, W-7) 16; Total (for 4 wkts; 18.4 overs) 154         
Fall of wickets: 1-68, 2-128, 3-128, 4-147.
Bowling: Irfan Pathan 3-0-28-0, Shahbaz Nadeem 4-0-32-0, Morne Morkel 4-0-35-1, Umesh Yadav 4-0-30-2, Varun Aaron 3.4-0-20-1.  

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