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All-round Kolkata lord over Eden

Wisden India logo Wisden India 10-04-2016

New team, new captain and new coach, but there wasn’t any change to Delhi Daredevils’ fortunes as Kolkata Knight Riders handed them a thrashing at the Eden Gardens on Sunday (April 10).

Delhi’s young and inexperienced batting line-up found no answers to Kolkata’s versatile attack and were bowled out for just 98. Andre Russell started the slide picking up three wickets before the spinners – Brad Hogg (3 for 19) and Piyush Chawla (2 for 21) – completed the demolition.

Delhi’s score was never going to test Kolkata’s batting and the hosts raced to a nine-wicket win in 14.1 overs with Gautam Gambhir (38 not out) and Robin Uthappa (35) doing the bulk of the scoring.

Nothing went right for Zaheer Khan and Delhi, starting with the toss. The only bright phase of Delhi’s innings came in the first two overs where they made 23 runs. Mayank Agarwal kick-started things confidently by lofting Russell over mid-off, and Quinton de Kock followed up by swinging Umesh Yadav to the legside for a four and a six.

The pitch seemed a beauty to bat on with the ball coming on nicely and Delhi seemed to have the perfect start. Their charge, however, came to an abrupt end when Russell sent down a double-wicket over that accounted for de Kock and Shreyas Iyer. De Kock mishit a pull to mid-off while Iyer played all around an inswinger to be trapped leg before.

A procession followed as Delhi’s batsmen continued to throw their bats around without any plan. The only possible explanation for Delhi’s rash batting was perhaps they wanted to have a go at the pacers before the spinners came on – an approach that clearly backfired.

Russell had one more in his next over when Agarwal slashed to third man and John Hastings too joined the party when Karun Nair sliced to point.

Pawan Negi, with all the weight of a Rs 8.5 crore contract on his shoulders, walked in with Delhi reeling at 35 for 4 and tried to counter-attack, hitting Colin Munro’s gentle medium pace over long-off, but the arrival of spin ended any hopes of a Delhi revival. Negi perished when he tried to repeat the shot against the wily Hogg.

The final hope for Delhi rested on the massive shoulders of Carlos – remember the name – Brathwaite, the Eden hero exactly a week back. True to all the hype, Brathwaite seemed set to resume from where he left the other night when he casually sent Chawla some 20 rows behind long-on off the first legal ball he faced.

The legspinner, however, ensured there would be no repeat of the World T20 final when he foxed Brathwaite with a googly to trap him in front. At 67 for 6, the writing was on the wall. Sanju Samson hung around for a while but Chawla’s precision and Hogg’s subtle variations proved too much for the lower order to handle as Delhi were skittled well inside their 20 overs.

Even the most optimistic of Delhi fans wouldn’t have expected them to defend 98. With absolutely no pressure, it was a great opportunity for Kolkata’s batsmen to get some valuable batting practice.

Gambhir and Uthappa did just that and showed that the pitch was in essence good for batting. And they did that with absolutely no risks, flicking and playing some gorgeous straight drives against the pacers.

In the process, they reached some milestones too. They became the second-most prolific opening pair in IPL history behind Michael Hussey and M Vijay, while Uthappa also became just the sixth batsman to cross 3000 IPL runs.

The Power Play yielded 47, and the result was only a matter of time. The arrival of spin in the form of Amit Mishra accounted for Uthappa, but Gambhir stayed till the end to see his side through.

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