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Champs Knights overcome near-jinx
Narine works his magic again, Gambhir shines too

KKR captain Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine celebrate the dismissal of Delhi DareDevils’ David Warner during the IPL-VI opener at the Eden, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Calcutta: It wasn’t strictly a jinx, but the winners of three editions of the Indian Premier League (IPL) failed to start their campaign as the defending champions on a successful note.

The Rajasthan Royals in 2009, the Deccan Chargers (2010) and the Chennai Super Kings in 2012 all began with a defeat.

Principal owner Shah Rukh Khan, captain Gautam Gambhir and coach Trevor Bayliss were, therefore, relieved that the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) weren’t even stretched by the Delhi DareDevils on Wednesday.

Shah Rukh, in fact, almost literally went overboard and had to be restrained by his children. Or else, he would have jumped off the KKR balcony at the Eden.

Eleven months ago, Shah Rukh ended IPL-V by doing something similar at the Chepauk. Then, he was pulled back by co-owner Jay Mehta, who’d been quick to react.

KKR, incidentally, had lost to the DareDevils in last year’s opener. This time, the DareDevils looked very ordinary, with captain Mahela Jayawardene left to play a lone hand.

It definitely wasn’t a first for Jayawardene but, at 35, he surely deserves a lighter load over the 22 yards. Also, the freedom to say whatever he wants to.

In what was highly unusual, at the post-match media conference, an IPL official prevented Jayawardene from replying to a question on Sri Lankans being kept out of Chennai.

Clearly, the IPL has been embarrassed by the Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Kumar Sangakkara’s blunt comments the other day.

So, do we ‘blame’ Sangakkara for this censorship?

“Points on the board straightaway... It’s always very satisfying,” Gambhir, looking distinctly relaxed, acknowledged.

Shah Rukh described the six-wicket win as “wonderful.” He added that his team had been “looking forward to carrying on from where they’d left off.”

It’s not unusual for sportsmen to be motivated by being told that a job well begun is half done. Perhaps, Bayliss said exactly that in the lead-up.

If Bayliss did (or it could have been Gambhir), then Sunil Narine heard that loud and clear.

Narine was the KKR’s star performer and shock weapon last year and he’s begun 2013 with a bang too: Four for 13 from four overs.

Amazing.

Sourav Ganguly had, on the eve of the opener, told The Telegraph: “If Narine can repeat his 2012 performance (24 wickets), then the rest will have a job on hand.”

Having been dropped from the West Indies squad for the recent two-Test series against Zimbabwe, some assumed Narine would be short on confidence. Far from it, really.