From the moment Gautam Gambhir departed without facing a ball, the Indian Premier League match petered into a tame exhibition under floodlights. It was pity that a packed house witnessed a drab contest.
The spectators had expected a battle but Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) came up with a disappointing fare. Delhi Daredevils, set a target of 137, reached the destination with seven wickets and 13 balls to spare at the Shaheed Veer Narayan Singh Stadium here. The only thing that went in KKR’s favour was the toss.
David Warner, the ebullient Australian, was the star for Daredevils, earning his second successive ‘man of the match’ honour with an unbeaten 66. The night belonged to Daredevils, which looked a team that had begun to enjoy its cricket after a string of defeats.
Daredevils bowled to a plan and took some outstanding catches, just the element that livens up a contest when the bowlers dominate.
Irfan Pathan was instrumental in restricting Kolkata to 136. He ran out Gambhir on his follow-through and then accounted for Jacques Kallis.
Actually, it should be recorded as Ben Rohrer’s dismissal; his amazing catch plucked out of thin air at point gave Daredevils a prize wicket off an innocuous ball. Irfan himself hung on to complete a running catch to dismiss his brother Yusuf.
Sumit Narwal, the recent signing, excelled for KKR along with Rajat Bhatia. These two players gave the team a chance to fight. KKR, 50 at the halfway stage, added another 86 runs in the last 10 — the final five fetching 53 runs. Ashish Nehra, the perennial ‘death’ bowler, conceded two sixes in the last over, a minor aberration in an otherwise enjoyable outing for Daredevils.
Gambhir was in a generous mood. He grassed a tentative Virender Sehwag early off Brett Lee. The KKR skipper clearly lacked concentration. The team fought, though. Lee bent his back and Sunil Narine attacked with two slips as runs were hard to come by. Sehwag failed to capitalise on the ‘life’. Jayawardena, too, didn’t get going and the match looked to be slipping away. Warner held all Daredevils’ hopes.
A sensible Unmukt Chand, at times creative, gave ideal support. The two, in a stand of 95 runs, sealed the game after the initial hiccups.
In the end, Daredevils’ fielding and Warner proved the difference between the teams.