New Delhi: Captain Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were involved in a century opening partnership for the second time in succession, as Kolkata Knight Riders returned to winning ways in IPL VII, beating Delhi DareDevils by eight wickets at the Kotla on Wednesday.
This was the KKRs’ first win in the India leg. KKR have so far won three of their eight matches, while DD succumbed to their sixth loss. KKR’s win comes after four consecutive losses.
After Wednesday’s hammering, Kevin Pietersen’s team have little chance of moving up the ladder. No wonder then that for the first time in many years, several seats at the Kotla remained vacant on Wednesday.
Along with the victory, what came as a huge relief for KKR was to see their batting finally coming good. Gambhir and Uthappa had put on 121 for against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad,. Their good work mattered little though, as the later-order batsmen crumbled to lose the match.
Thankfully, things turned out differently for KKR on Wednesday. Chasing Daredevils’ 160 for five, KKR openers put on 106 runs in 71 balls, against some moderate attack. Uthappa departed three short of a half-century, his disciplined 34-ball knock studded with five fours and one six.
Gambhir (69) stayed behind for some more time to see it did not become a repeat of the Ahmedabad tie. KKR scored the required runs in 18.2 overs.
That Gambhir is back in form was confirmed against Rajasthan Royals. At the Kotla, he played some fine strokes. His six over mid-wicket off Laxmi Ratan Shukla in the fifth over was a treat.
DareDevils could have got rid of Gambhir in the sixth over when the seasoned batsman edged Siddarth Kaul’s fifth delivery in the sixth over, only to watch with great relief Dinesh Karthik fumble and drop the catch.
Gambhir finally departed when KKR were only 10 runs away from victory. He hit five fours and two sixes.
The DareDevils innings once again revolved around their two middle order batsmen – JP Duminy (40 not out) and Kedhar Jadhav (26 not out) — who scored 55 off the last 25 deliveries for the sixth wicket to take their team to a respectable total.
Gambhir’s plan to reserve his star bowler, Sunil Narine, for the death overs did not produce the desired result. The West Indian was hit for 33 runs in his last three overs.
The DareDevils innings was almost a repeat of the one against Chennai Super Kings in the previous match. On Monday, too, the DareDevils top order failed, leaving Duminy and Jadhav to repair the damage by scoring 58 in 34 deliveries.
Barring the onslaught that Duminy and Jadhav launched in the last five overs, KKR did a good job in containing the DD batsmen.
Captain Kevin Pietersen (6) threw his wicket away in the sixth over. Visibly uncomfortable against the double spin attack of Narine and Shakib-al Hasan, the former England captain defended a delivery from Hasan and then started running for a single without bothering to check with Murali Vijay at the non-striker’s end. Wicketkeeper Uthappa just picked up the ball and ran Pietersen out.
Pietersen was not the only culprit. Opener De Kock tried to hit a Umesh Yadav delivery high over the mid-on only to be caught by Gambhir. In the ninth over, Murali Vijay (24) attempted to clear Kallis over the long on and was held by Narine.
Given the fact that Vijay had already scored 24 runs off 20 balls with the help of two fours and one six, it was not the right way to get out.
Shukla was out for a duck in the previous match. On Wednesday, he managed only 10 off 14 balls. He was struggling and looked clueless when his middle stump was broken by a quicker one from Narine. It was perhaps the best delivery of the match.
For KKR, Shakib was once again the most impressive bowler, giving away just 13 in his four overs. He also took the wicket of Karthik.