In a match where fortunes shifted constantly, the Kolkata Knight Riders got the better of Delhi Daredevils at Eden Gardens thanks to a spirited effort by their bowlers. The eventual margin of victory, 14 runs, may read like a rather comfortable one, but that hardly told the story of the hard-fought match.
Both teams constantly jostled for the upper hand. And, it wasn’t until a rampaging Virender Sehwag was dismissed by Ajit Agarkar for a superb 64 that Kolkata began to feel that they were in with a good chance. Their batting effort told a similar tale. At one stage, it looked like they would struggle to cross 160 despite a rapid start provided by Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle. But, Angelo Matthews’ power hitting towards the end saw them reach 181 for 3, which proved to be a match-winning score at the end of the day.
One of the defining aspects of the game was the manner in which Ashok Dinda took Eden Gardens by storm. The quickie, who had done nothing noteworthy so far in the tournament, was handed the new ball by his skipper. This was a huge responsibility considering that Kolkata had failed to defend 200 even against the punching bag of the tournament, Kings XI Punjab.
And Dinda responded in an unbelievable fashion, cramping David Warner for room for four consecutive deliveries and shattering his stumps off the fifth. It was exactly the kind of start KKR needed. But, it was only fair to expect a fightback from Delhi.
Sehwag and skipper Gautam Gambhir batted in an extremely smart fashion to keep Delhi ahead in the race. The former was undoubtedly lucky when Rudi Koertzen was unwilling to raise the deadly finger after Sehwag had nicked one off Dinda in the bowler’s second over.
That dismissal could have turned the game. Instead, Sehwag rode his luck and carried on. Though swashbuckling, it was a smart innings. He picked the man he wanted to go after, Angelo Mathews, and saw to it that he maximized the score. In two overs, Sehwag slammed his innocuous medium pacers to all parts of the ground and, in no time, Delhi were up and running again. As expected, Gambhir was excellent against the spin of Ajantha Mendis and rotated the strike frequently as well.
Kolkata needed some inspiration, and it came in the form of a run-out enforced by the captain himself. Ganguly cut short his opposite number’s innings with a sharp, accurate throw from mid-on. But, Sehwag continued to bat with utmost comfort and raced past his half-century. It needed a special delivery from Agarkar, full and slower in the air, to end Sehwag’s magic. It did not help Delhi that Paul Collingwood was foxed by Mendis just a few overs earlier. However, the wicket of Sehwag nailed Delhi.
Though the win must be dedicated to the bowlers, it wouldn’t have been possible without noteworthy contributions from their batters. Gayle and Ganguly, looking better with each game, added 94 for the opening wicket in under 11 overs. Then, despite the loss of a few quick wickets, a stroke-filled 46 off 28 balls from Mathews gave them the proper impetus. The bowlers then did excellently to ensure they did not repeat the grave mistakes they committed against Punjab.
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