New Delhi: Young batsman Karun Nair and debutant Sam Billings batted with lot of responsibility before their bowlers came good as Delhi Daredevils displaced Kolkata Knight Riders from the second spot with a comfortable 27-run win in their IPL match, here on Saturday.
The hosts overcame loss of two wickets in the first over to post a challenging 186 for eight after being invited to bat and skittled out the visitors for 159 with nine balls to spare at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
Thanks to fighting half-centuries by Nair (68 off 50 balls) and Billings (54 off 34 balls) combined with Carlos Brathwaite's (34 off 11) finishing touches, Daredevils' innings shaped well as they registered their best total against KKR.
Brathwaite also took three wickets when Daredevils bowled as the West Indian broke the KKR middle order.
It was first defeat for KKR in this tournament while chasing as except opener Robin Uthappa (72 off 52) no other batsman showed resistance. Both Nair and Billings impressed with their batting as they desisted from swinging the bat wildly, playing proper cricketing shots. They were comfortable against both pacers and spinners, building the innings with smart cricket.
Braithwaite played true to his big-hitting reputation by smashing 34 with three sixes and as many fours to ensure that the hosts end with a bang.
KKR had packed their attack with three spinners but they could not make an impression. Only Brad Hogg completed his quota of four overs and combined with Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla, the trio conceded 85 runs in nine over.
Andre Russell was the most impressive KKR bowler with figures of 4-0-26-3 while Umesh Yadav (3\33) also picked three wickets. Zaheer Khan did exactly what he was expected to do after not-so-great performance in the previous matches by bowling with a lot of venom and taking two early wickets.
He had rival skipper Gautam Gambhir (6) caught off a leading edge at covers and trapped Piyush Chawla (8), who was promoted up the order.
The wickets had an effect on KKR's run-rate as they managed 43 in the six Power-play overs. In the sixth over a dog sneaked into the ground and struggled to find his way out, much to the amusement of players and fans.
Opener Robin Uthappa was keeping one end tight but Yusuf Pathan (10) started his walk back to dug out when he handed an easy catch to Amit Mishra off Braithwaite.
In came Suryakumar Yadav and with Uthappa he took KKR to 88 for three in 10 overs with team requiring 99 more in last 10 overs.
Suryakumar's knock ended when he failed to connect one from Brathwaite and was taken splendidly by Shreyas Iyer. Uthappa got to his fifty with a six off Mishra but had lost R Sathish by then. He hit another four off Mishra as KKR now needed 60 off last five overs.
Required run-rate was mounting and when Uthappa was sent back by Chris Morris it was all lover for KKR. Earlier, Russell rattled the host camp by removing both the Delhi openers ? Shreyas Iyer (0) and Quinton De Kock (1) -- in the first over of the match.
Iyer was caught plumb in front of the wicket and De Kock miscued a pull that landed safely in the hands of Brad Hogg. It was now left to Nair and Sanju Samson to build the innings. Both the young batsman showed good composure, playing brilliantly with straight bat. Their shots were proper cricketing strokes. They drove effortlessly and were elegant when played through the leg side.
KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir brought in Narine and the West Indies spinner sent back Samson (15), bringing debutant Billings on the crease. Nair kept going strong, flicking Russell for a four when bowled up and reverse swept Narine. The young English batsman, Billings also made an impression as he pulled a short one from Umesh Yadav, who bowled at a good speed.
Nair consistently rotated the stroke and found odd boundaries as the hosts managed 70 runs on the board at half-way stage. As Billings grew in confidence, he too started to play his shots. And he too played proper shots instead of swinging his bat wildly at everything and anything. His cover drives off Hogg was a treat to watch.
Karun swept Narine to square leg boundary to complete his half-century. His fifty came off 39 balls and followed it up with another shot to the ropes. Billings too pressed the accelerator button, hitting Holder for the first six of the innings. It was pitched outside off but Billings went down and picked and swept it over square leg.
Nair lofted Umesh Yadav elegantly for a six over long-off but was trapped by the paceman in the next ball. It brought Chris Morris to the crease but the South African could not repeat his last-match heroics and was bowled for a duck by Yadav.
In his usual attacking way, Braithwaite treated the home fans with a flurry of boundaries. He lofted Hogg for a six after finding consecutive boundaries off Yadav.
Billings found his fifty with a six off Hogg but was dismissed by Yadav, castled on a slower full toss. However he had the done job for his side by then.