New Delhi: Two-time former champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) started their 2016 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with a comfortable nine-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils (DD) at Eden Gardens, Kolkata on Sunday.
For the second successive match, the ninth season of cash-rich Twenty20 league witnessed the ball dominating the bat. The two matches played so far witnessed bowlers setting up the wins, and batsmen from the winning team displaying caution.
After the win, KKR are in second place in the points table, behind Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) on points difference. Both the teams have 2 points each.
DD are third, again on points difference, ahead of defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI). Yesterday, in the tournament opener new boys RPS under Mahendra Singh Dhoni produced a similar clinical performance to beat MI by nine wickets with 32 balls remaining at the Wankhede Stadium.
After winning the toss, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir put DD into bat first. And their fortress remained unbreachable, relatively speaking. Last time they lost at home was against Royal Challengers Bangalore in April 2015, which the away side had won by 3 wickets thanks to a Chris Gayle 96.
DD started well with Quinton de Kock connecting the ball well, and hitting a couple of lusty blows to race to 17 off nine balls. He along with Mayank Agarwal posted a 24-run opening stand 11 balls, but one of West Indies' ICC World Twenty20 hero Andre Russell broke the stand. The West Indian was awarded with the Man of the Match award.
Once the South African opener was back in the hut, DD failed to build any partnership, and the innings was folded for a lowly 98 runs in 17.4 overs. It was the seventh time DD were bowled out under 100-run, most for any team in the competition.
KKR started the chase cautiously, but picked up the pace once Robin Uthappa started opening his stroke making. He and Gambhir posted a 69-run partnership inside ten overs to all but end DD's chance of a fight-back in Kolkata.
Uthappa finally departed trying to loft a Amit Mishra delivery over mid-off boundary in the fourth ball of the 10th over. But the opener had already done what was needed from him, scoring 35 off 33 balls.
In the process, Uthappa also crossed the 3000-run mark in the IPL, becoming the sixth player to do so.
Manish Pandey joined skipper Gambhir, and the duo completed the job without much ado, with the later taking a single of rival skipper Zaheer. Gambhir remained unbeaten on 38 off 41, while a rusty looking Pandey was at 15 off 12.
None of the Delhi bowlers managed to create any wicket taking chances, except the one produced by Mishra to get rid of Uthappa. Skipper Zaheer himself looked out of sync and he was punished. His figures of 2.1-0-24-0 read sorry for a champion bowler during his salad days.
His new-ball partner Aussie Nathan Coulter-Nile looked shared but he too went for runs towards the end. he conceded 32 runs from four overs.
Besides him, Chris Morris was the only other Delhi bowler to have completed the four overs' quota. He leaked 21 runs without success. Carlos Brathwaite and Mishra bowled two overs each. Amit Negi, one of the most expensive players in the Delhi ranks, was not utilised by Zaheer.
Earlier, put into bat first, a strong looking Delhi batting line-up was folded for a low total. Except de Kock and Samson, who scored 15 off 13 balls, up to some extent not a single Delhi batsman seemed to know what's happening there.
In fact, the innings second bet partnership after that opening stand was a mere 20-run collaboration between Sanju samson and Pawan Negi for the fifth wicket.
The hero of ICC World Twenty20 final Carlos Brathwaite, like Negi, were clueless in the middle against the experienced Kolkata bowlers.
Morris, another expensive buy, tried to resurrect the innings, but he too failed to the brilliance of slow bowling, to Piyush Chawla.
For Kolkata, Gambhir used six bowlers and all them except Umesh Yadav and Colin Munro have taken wickets.
Russell produced a brilliant start by taking the wicket de Kock in the third over. Until then the South African was looking great and had played couple of brilliant strokes.
Russell then took the wickets of another opener Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer. With three wickets to the west Indians, in his first three overs, all Gambhir needed was to bring in slower bowlers and rotate them.
Aussie veteran Brad Hogg enjoyed his outing like never before, taking 3 for 19. It was his second-best figures in the IPL.
In the third match, Kings XI Punjab will play hosts to another new team Gujarat Lions at the Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali tomorrow.