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Knight Riders gallop to victory

S. Sabanayakan
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CRICKET / Daredevils done in by Narine’s guile

CAPTAIN'S DELIGHT:Sunil Narine touted as Gautam Gambhir's trump card lived up to the tag, returning figures of four for 13. —Photo: K.R. Deepak
CAPTAIN'S DELIGHT:Sunil Narine touted as Gautam Gambhir's trump card lived up to the tag, returning figures of four for 13. —Photo: K.R. Deepak

After the spectacular opening ceremony on Tuesday, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) brought more joy to the city with a thumping six-wicket victory over Delhi Daredevils (DD) in the opening encounter of IPL-VI at the Eden Gardens.

Chasing a target of 129, KKR won with eight balls to spare, thanks to skipper Gautam Gambhir’s sizzling 42 off 29 balls with five fours and one six off Irfan Pathan.

Right decision

Gambhir’s decision to field first proved right as the Daredevils batsmen floundered against some clever bowling by the hosts. Despite losing Manvinder Bisla early, KKR was never in trouble while chasing the modest total.

Gambhir and Jacques Kallis’ 47-run partnership for the second wicket put Knight Riders on course before the 41-run association for the next wicket between the KKR captain and Manoj Tiwary sealed Daredevils’ fate.

It was pleasing to see KKR’s key players Gambhir and Narine, who was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for his four for 13 off four overs, find their rhythm from the word go. Gambhir was aggression-personified, both while handling his bowlers and at the crease.

Peach of a delivery

Disaster struck Delhi off the first ball from Brett Lee, who produced a beauty which pitched and swung to literally crack Unmukt Chand’s off-stump. Captain Mahela Jayawardene, who joined David Warner, steadied the innings.

The 44-run second-wicket stand gave Daredevils a launch pad before Sunil Narine was introduced in the sixth over. Warner was bamboozled by one that went the other way, forcing the Aussie to snick it to Kallis in the slips.

Standing tall

Even as the other Delhi batsmen, from the young Manpreet Juneja to the experienced Irfan Pathan, were reckless in their shot selection, Jayawardene stood tall amid the ruins. The Sri Lankan’s 52-ball 66, which included eight fours and a well-timed flick for six off Lee, was full of elegance and perfect placements.

Narine, playing in his second IPL, baffled the Delhi batsmen with his guile and variety. Rajat Bhatia, with his subtle change of pace and cutters, was an able foil and finished with two for 23.

Lee, despite a wicket off the first delivery, turned out to be expensive, as he conceded 40 in his four-over spell.

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