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Knight Riders emerge victorious out of Devils’ den to top points table
By IPL desk
Mumbai 07 May 2012
After spoiling Sourav Ganguly’s homecoming at the Eden Gardens, it was Gautam Gambhir’s turn to play an away game on the ground where he grew up playing his cricket – the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi. Unlike the former Indian captain’s team, his side returned victorious from the Devils’ den by six wickets. With this win, the Kolkata Knight Riders (17 points) replaced the Delhi Daredevils at the top of the DLF IPL 2012 table.
Gambhir and Brendon McCullum took the Kotla by storm, helping KKR to the fastest team fifty in IPL 2012, in 30 balls. The Kiwi opener went after the pacers, while Gambhir attacked the in-form left-arm spinner, Shahbaz Nadeem. The KKR skipper made his way back to the dugout when Varun Aaron hit the stumps. Umesh Yadav had dropped him in the deep off the previous delivery. Gambhir scored 36 off 21 balls.
Gambhir’s departure put an end to the opening stand at 68, but not to McCullum’s butchery. He continued to clobber all the bowlers en route to a match-winning 56. With this knock, the wicketkeeper-batsman ended a streak of 17 innings without an IPL half-century. He struck seven fours during his 44-ball innings.
McCullum was the second of the two consecutive wickets taken by Yadav in the 16th over to peg KKR back a bit. Yadav produced two bouncers to get rid of Kallis and McCullum, when KKR were cruising with a required run-rate of six. The strikes, though, came a bit too late for the hosts as KKR completed a comfortable win in 18.4 overs.
Earlier, after electing to bat first, Sehwag was in his element, looking set to continue his smashing form in IPL 2012. He plundered 23 runs in nine deliveries before Jacques Kallis trapped him plumb in front of the wicket. David Warner, playing his first game of IPL 2012, took time to find his feet as he played out a maiden over from Brett Lee to begin DD’s innings. In his next over, however, Lee was tonked for a four and a six by the Australian dynamite. The dangerous-looking knock was cut short by Kallis, who bowled out his four overs in a single spell that produced figures of two for 20.
Mahela Jayawardene (30) walked in and began what turned out to be a very charmed life at the crease. He was let off by the umpire when, batting on three, he seemed to have nicked one to the wicketkeeper. An over later Brendon McCullum missed a chance to catch him. The umpire’s decision to turn down the appeal against Jayawardene didn’t go down too well with the KKR skipper and he let the batsman know it in as many words. Things heated up between the two as the characteristically calm Sri Lankan too lost his cool. The incident brought out the aggression in both players and was a part of the discussion during the strategic timeout.
While Jayawardene played a couple of attacking shots for boundaries, Gambhir had the last laugh when he produced a splendid piece of fielding to run the batsman out with a direct hit.
Ross Taylor’s struggle for form continued as was evident during his scratchy 27-ball stay at the wicket for just 16 runs. With the DD innings losing its way, Irfan Pathan chipped in with a valuable cameo of 36 off 22 balls, including four boundaries and a six. Sunil Narine remained a mystery for most of the batsmen as his spell of four overs produced 23 runs and two wickets.
Both sides came into this game with quite a few changes in their playing XI. While Muttiah Muralitharan replaced RCB skipper Daniel Vettori, Tillakaratne Dilshan came in place of Andrew McDonald. Apart from that, J Syed Mohammad, Abhimanyu Mithun and seamer Prasanth Parameswaran replaced Saurabh Tiwary, KP Appanna and R Vinay Kumar. In the DC squad, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala and Ankit Sharma made way for Akshath Reddy and Anand Rajan, whereas Daniel Harris replaced Daniel Christain.
Upon winning the toss, stand-in RCB skipper, Virat Kohli, opted to field first. Daniel Harris opened the DC innings with Shikhar Dhawan, and the duo charged against the RCB bowlers from the word go. The opening pair added 86 runs, before a direct hit from Kohli saw the back of Harris (47 off 41 balls). However, this brought no relief to the hosts as Cameron White (45 off 24 balls) picked up where the opener had left off. Dhawan was on song and reached his fifty with a boundary off Parameswaran through mid-wicket. With no bowler being spared, RCB tried as many as seven options to stem the flow of runs, albeit unsuccessfully. Dhawan (73* off 52 balls) and White added 82 runs until the latter top-edged Parameswaran to give the bowler a return catch. Skipper Kumar Sangakkara, who then came in to bat with five balls left in the innings, added 10 off three deliveries including a six off the last ball to take his team’s score to 181 for two in 20 overs.
When RCB came out to bat, there was a role reversal of sorts as Dilshan took on the DC bowlers, while Chris Gayle played the patient partner. The West Indian hit his first boundary in the sixth over of the innings and was batting on 10 off 15 balls when his opening partner was on 35 off 21. However, Gayle (26 off 22 balls) looked like getting back to his usual self with a six off Amit Mishra in the tenth over, which was also his hundredth in the IPL. He then hit Anand Rajan over long-on for a big hit, but the young pacer yorked him the next ball, before he could cause any further damage.
Kohli (9), who was the next man in, soon returned to the dugout as Dale Steyn plucked a brilliant diving catch off Amit Mishra at the long-off boundary. The pacer took another running catch in the same over to dismiss Asad Khan Pathan (4). This brought AB de Villiers to the crease. However, a while later, Dilshan (71 off 54 balls) was castled by Veer Pratap Singh. With RCB at 117 for four, the visitors were in the driver’s seat. However, Mayank Agarwal and de Villiers decided to take the attack to the opposition. Though Agarwal (18 off six balls) was trapped lbw by Anand Rajan, de Villiers continued to score freely.
With 39 required off 18 balls, Steyn came into the attack. But de Villiers hit his compatriot for 23 runs in the 18th over to bring RCB within sniffing distance of victory. In the next over, de Villiers (47 off 17 balls) slammed Anand Rajan for two boundaries, a six and a single to level the scores. Finally, Syed Mohammad sealed the win for RCB with a boundary over mid-wicket.