New Delhi: Robin Uthappa started on Friday just from where he had left on Wednesday against Rising Pune Supergiant. Only, last day it was the crowd in Pune who had their money’s worth and on Friday it was his home crowd at the Eden Gardens. He cut, he pulled, he drove and he flicked. Uthappa was a man possessed at the Eden Gardens as Kolkata Knight Riders rode on his whirlwind 59 off 33 balls to beat Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets.
Not to forget the anchor’s role that skipper Gautam Gambhir played. He was unbeaten on 71 as Kolkata chased down Delhi Daredevils’ total of 161 with 22 balls to spare. It was another clinical effort and one that strengthens KKR’s position at the top of the table.
Chasing under lights, Kolkata did not have the most auspicious start as Kagiso Rabada sent opener Sunil Narine back for just 4 with the score reading 9/1. But a hamstring niggle forced Zaheer Khan to stay away from the bowling crease as Corey Anderson took over the mantle.
But skipper Gambhir and Uthappa looked happy to rotate the strike and hit the bad balls for boundaries till Amit Mishra and Sanju Samson messed up a simple skier off Uthappa’s bat. A misunderstanding saw both players looking at each other and the ball dropping in the middle. Uthappa was batting on 9 with KKR’s score on 37/1 in the 6th over.
From there on, it was complete carnage as Uthappa did not look back. He was severe on the pacers. He first plundered 18 off the 8th over from Morris and then hit Pat Cummins for 12 runs in the 9th over. In between, he also helped himself to boundaries off Mishra and Rabada.
A direct-hit from Karun Nair finally ended Uthappa’s innings against the run of play, but by then, KKR were well on their course to a thumping win as the score read 117/2 in 12.2 overs, chasing 161 for their seventh win of the season.
Rabada though dismissed Manish Pandey (5) with the score on 139 in the 15th over, but KKR still had Gambhir in the middle batting on 62. In the end it was a walk in the park with Sheldon Jackson giving Gambhir company on 12.
Earlier, KKR skipper Gambhir won the toss and decided to field first. And the move was typical of the Kolkata franchise as they prefer chasing. Sanju Samson and Karun Nair started well with both the openers looking to hit the bad balls for boundaries.
In fact, DD’s score read 41/0 after 4 overs when Gambhir turned to Narine and the mystery spinner struck off the fifth ball of the over as he dismissed Nair for 15. Even though it looked like the ball was hitting just outside the line, replays showed it was an umpire’s call anyway.
Shreyas Iyer joined Samson in the middle and the two looked happy to rotate the strike to start off with. But Gambhir was quick to read the situation and he started tightening the screws on the Delhi batsmen. Even though KKR wasn’t able to pick the wickets, the scoring rate started to slow down.
Samson finally broke the shackles in the 12th over as he hit Kuldeep Yadav for a six to not only bring up his 50, but also end a 46-ball streak without a boundary. They were striking at around 6.65 runs per over.
But things improved in the 12th and 13th over as the duo picked up 25 runs from the two overs from Kuldeep and Colin de Grandhomme. With the score on 108/1 after 13 overs, Iyer and Samson decided to now take the attack to Umesh Yadav and they started well as Iyer hit him for back to back boundaries before Samson hit a massive six.
Umesh though had the last laugh as he dismissed Samson (60) with one that reversed and hit Samson plumb in front. Rishabh Pant (6) and Iyer (47) was dismissed in the next over by Nathan Coulter-Nile as the score read 140/4 after the 16th over.
His twin dismissals of Pant and Iyer in the same over derailed the Delhi innings as they looked good to score in the range of 180-190 at one stage.