KOLKATA: A depleted Delhi outfit came up with a strong performance to make the most of a rain-reduced IPL match against Kolkata, which surrendered by 8 wickets with some 50,000 of their adoring fans in attendance at the Eden Gardenson Thursday.
Irfan Pathan bowled only one over in the game but proved decisive with the bat, smashing an unbeaten 42 from 20 deliveries to ensure Delhi Daredevils did not make a mess of their chase of 98 after having been 49 for 0. It would have been embarrassing for Daredevils to lose after that opening partnership, and especially after they had reduced Kolkata Knight Riders to 55 for 6 at one stage.
Aaron Finch and Virender Sehwag had gone serenely after the target in the rain-affected game shortened to 12 overs per side. But the asking-rate suddenly rose above ten runs an over after their dismissals in successive overs, and it was left to Irfan to bail Daredevils out.
And he did so in style, with some nerveless stroke-making under pressure. With 35 needed from 20 deliveries, Irfan lofted Jacques Kallis for six over long-on. South Africa fast bowler Marchant de Lange, on IPL debut, was pulled over deep midwicket and swung over long-on for two more sixes. Game over.
That the game was actually played was only because the rain relented after causing a two-and-a-half hour delay. A packed Eden Gardens had waited and waited for the rain to stop.
When the match finally got underway, the home team Knight Riders crumbled instantly. By the end of the fourth over, they had lost four wickets, and six by the end of the seventh. Morne Morkel was responsible for three of those strikes, including the wickets of Kallis and Tiwary off consecutive deliveries.
The crowd eventually found their voice when Bengal boys Debabrata Das and Laxmi Shukla hit the Daredevils spinners for a few sixes. The blows also ensured Knight Riders ended up with a decent score after having been reduced to 55 for 6.
Things had looked worse for Knight Riders at 31 for 4. Brendon McCullum missed a pull off Roelof van der Merwe to be caught plumb in front in the second over. Morkel came on in the third and uprooted Kallis’ middle stump with a stinging yorker. Manoj Tiwary has travelled around the world with the Indian team recently without getting a game. And when he finally got one today, he lasted one ball, going back in his crease and conspiring to convert a very low full toss into a yorker. Bowled again.
Yusuf Pathan lasted three more deliveries than Tiwary had. Off his fourth, he tried to duck under a not-so-short ball from Umesh Yadav but only managed to glove it awkwardly to the wicketkeeper. Knight Riders’ troubles only increased when Gautam Gambhir chopped an attempted guide to third man off a short Morkel delivery onto his stumps.
Knight Riders were in danger of getting bowled out in an innings of 12 overs, but Shukla and Das went after the spinners. Shukla, who played three ODIs for India in 1999, had cracked an unbeaten century last month to help Bengal beat heavyweights Mumbai for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
He lofted van der Merwe over long-off and deposited Shahbaz Nadeem over deep midwicket. Das had started the fightback earlier with a straight six off Morkel and the home fans now had reason to stay on for the chase. Knight Riders almost made their long stay worth it, but ran into Irfan.