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Sizzling Pandey seals nervy win for Kolkata

Wisden India logo Wisden India 17-04-2017

Manish Pandey held his nerve in a tense chase of 169 to seal the deal for Kolkata Knight Riders at Feroz Shah Kotla against Delhi Daredevils on Monday (April 27) evening.

After his 110-run stand with Yusuf Pathan rescued Kolkata from a precarious 21 for 3, Delhi fought back in the death overs only for the unflappable Pandey to shatter their plans on the penultimate ball and take Kolkata back to the No. 1 position on the eight-team table.

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Defending just nine in the final over, Zaheer Khan handed the ball to Amit Mishra, who gave away just one run and had Chris Woakes stumped in his first three deliveries. When strike came back to the in-form Pandey, he struck a lusty blow over Pat Cummins at long-on and then stole a double to end the suspense as Kolkata won by four wickets.

Earlier, Rishabh Pant’s fiery 16-ball 38 helped Delhi to a competitive 168 for 7 despite Nathan Coulter-Nile’s 3 for 22. Kolkata, looking to be overly aggressive in their chase, made the task difficult for themselves by losing three early wickets, but combated the rare top-order failure through the fine stand for the fourth wicket to put themselves on course. While Pathan fell for a 39-ball 59, Pandey rallied through with an unbeaten 69 from 49 balls.

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Zaheer struck twice and Cummins once as Kolkata stuttered early on – the wickets included those of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, as well as Colin de Grandhomme, Kolkata’s latest opening experiment. After striking two boundaries off Cummins in the second over, Uthappa chased one outside off and Pant dived to his right in a show of great reflexes and athleticism to pouch the nick. Gambhir fell the next over to Zaheer for 14 off 12 balls when he tried to heave one.

Pathan and Pandey kept Kolkata in the hunt, however, with a measured partnership, the former shouldering the scoring responsibilities initially, while Pandey played second fiddle.

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But once stability was established, Pandey also joined the party. Pathan brought up a well-deserved fifty with a six off Zaheer to deep midwicket in the 14th over. The 100-run stand between the two was brought up the very next ball as Zaheer, who was economical earlier, conceded 15 in his fourth over to return 2 for 28 in four overs.

Chris Morris finally broke the stand in the next over, catching Pathan off his own bowling.

Delhi, who left out Shahbaz Nadeem in favour of Mohammad Shami, fought till the end with Cummins delivering a tight 18th over, also sending back Suryakumar Yadav. But with just 16 required in the final two overs, Pandey wasn’t about to let the game slip.

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Having opted to bat, Delhi were given a flying start by Sanju Samson and Sam Billings, who posted 53 runs for the first wicket before Coulter-Nile, playing his first game this season, sent back Billings for a 17-ball 21. In the very next over Umesh Yadav accounted for Samson for a 25-ball 39. The double-strike allowed Kolkata to wrest back some of the momentum.

Karun Nair looked iffy, scoring just seven in the first ten balls he faced. There was, however, a fluency to Shreyas Iyer’s batting even as he looked to rebuild. He focussed on rotating the strike, but was severe on poor balls. As the partnership with Nair grew, Iyer became proactive in his hunt for boundaries.

Unfortunately for Delhi, just when he was starting to come into his own, Iyer ran himself out calling for a second run with a flick to deep midwicket, when a throw from de Grandhomme caught him short for a 17-ball 24. A Coulter-Nile slower ball accounted for Nair soon after for 21 from 27 balls.

Pant belted two fours and four sixes to propel Delhi to a good total, 26 runs coming off one Umesh over when Pant broke free completely. Morris added late impetus with 16 runs from nine deliveries, including three boundaries.

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