Kolkata Knight Riders 171 for 7 (20 overs) beat Delhi Daredevils 156 for 8 (20 overs) by 13 runs

When skipper Gautam Gambhir proclaimed at the toss that the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) were going in with four spinners, one would have expected Sunil Narine to steal the show, or Brad Hogg to set the stage on fire again. Very few would have had their money on Piyush Chawla. But the leggie bowled with gusto, and ran through the Daredevils top order, ending up with figures of 4-32.

The juggernaut began quite early into the second innings when Chawla ended Manoj Tiwary’s resistance. But Shreyash Iyer, as he has throughout the tournament, looked solid and determined. Chasing a total of 172 to win, Shreyash Iyer scored a useful 40 off 35 deliveries before Brad Hogg came and rattled his stumps. But the majority of the damage was inflicted in the 14th over when Chawla picked Kedhar Jadhav and then the prized scalp of Yuvraj Singh. At 96-4, the target did not seem insurmountable, especially for the likes of JP Duminy and Angelo Matthews. All they needed was a crucial partnership at this stage, but when Chawla picked Duminy for his fourth, the Daredevils looked in a state of bother.

The fightback was led by Saurabh Tiwary and Angelo Matthews, in an attempt to resurrect the innings. The duo smashed Brad Hogg for 17 runs in the 17th over, to give the Daredevils a fresh ray of hope. However, the clouds of despair soon shrouded Delhi’s chances again, as Andre Russel returned to send Matthews back to the pavilion. When Albie Morkel arrived at the crease, there was simply too much to be done, and even a Herculean effort from him would not suffice.

The Daredevils brought in Albie Morkel for this game, yet pushed him too far down the order for him to have any impact of consequence on the game. Defeat was imminent and the Delhi side lost by 13 runs in the end.

Earlier, KKR won the toss and elected to bat first, but Gambhir and Uthappa were off to a rather sedate start. Veteran Zaheer Khan struck early and sent Gautam Gambhir packing. Robin Uthappa got to 32 off 31 deliveries, but was trapped leg before wicket by Amit Mishra. In a surprise move, Piyush Chawla was sent at number 4, while Surya Kumar Yadav was sent much down the order. Both Manish Pandey and Piyush Chawla played identical knocks of 22 off 19 balls, but the real fireworks came when Yusuf Pathan arrived at the crease.

Pathan scored a quickfire 24-ball 42, smashing the bowlers with disdain. Imran Tahir and Amit Mishra were bowling well till that time, plugging the flow of runs by the KKR batsmen. But Pathan came in and scored at a brisk rate to get the scoreboard ticking. His knock contained three fours and three sixes, which steered KKR to a big total. Imran Tahir, although he picked two wickets, was expensive, and gave away far too many runs.

Johan Botha surprised with a valuable contribution towards the end. Hitting Zaheer for four consecutive boundaries, Botha garnered 18 crucial runs off the last over, to hand the advantage to KKR. Delhi could not capitalize on their brisk start and faltered in the end.

With the return of Sunil Narine, there was the return of monumental expectations. Although Narine fell way short of fulfilling those expectations, the entire team stepped up to take KKR to victory. For Delhi, though, the saga continues, and they continue to squander away the opportunities that come their way. One can only hope that the gulf between their efforts and rewards will soon be bridged.