David Warner scored a glorious 107 not out and was well supported by Paul Collingwood (53) to raise Delhi Daredevils to 177/4 at the Feroz Shah Kotla against Kolkata Knight Riders, a good enough score to pin Kolkata down.
This was after they lost three big wickets in the first three overs of the game post winning the toss and electing to bat on a pitch that had little for the pacers, but sharp turn for the spinners. In reply, the Delhi bowlers kept the pressure on the Knight Riders right from the start and eased to a 40-run win.
The match though belonged to Warner. The comparatively tough batting conditions meant his knock was all the more special. There was plenty of pressure on the left-handed bat after Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and Dinesh Karthik all fell cheaply. But, Warner responded by taking on the bowlers and muscled them all over the park.
Taking a cue from Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly had opened the bowling with the spin of Chris Gayle. And, while Sehwag slammed him to the fence on a couple of occasions, the West Indian was smart enough to drag him out of the crease a third time and have him stumped.
At the other end, Charl Langeveldt trapped Gambhir in front — a marginal decision, but certainly one that had Delhi on the backfoot very soon. Karthik was well deceived by a slower ball from a struggling Ishant Sharma and fell for a first-ball duck. At 38 for 3 in the third over, Delhi were in great strife, the only positive being that they were scoring at a phenomenal pace thanks to Warner.
What Delhi needed was for someone to support Warner. And, as luck would have it, they had Collingwood, a perfect fit for the situation. While Warner took on all the bowlers with ease, Collingwood made sure he gave the Australian a majority of the strike, manoeuvring the ball in the gaps.
Even while going after most of the bowlers, Warner batted with common sense and treated the spinners with respect, on a pitch that demanded it. The beauty of the Warner-Collingwood partnership was that they never allowed the run-rate of plummet. When Warner was approaching his century, Collingwood took over the mantle of boundary-hitting and raced to his half-century – chipping down the pith and dragging the ball to the on side boundary proved to be his most effective stroke.
It eventually needed a spectacular catch by David Hussey, nudging the ball over the ropes, but managing to keep it in the field of play and eventually pulling off the unthinkable.
Kolkata’s batting effort was not half as good. They lost Ganguly early, the left-hander exposing his stumps and being cleaned up by Dirk Nannes. The inexperienced Mandeep Singh felt the pressure and succumbed, going for an almighty swing against Amit Mishra, only to find the ball turning the other way.
The wicket then played its part in Kolkata’s downfall. Last match hero Manoj Tiwary’s stumps were castled by a straight delivery from Andrew McDonald. The problem was that the ball did not rise above knee-high.
Gayle was the only man looking comfortable, playing in his typical brawny style. And, he was lucky too as a mistimed sweep was dropped by Sehwag when he was on 24. Despite the respite, the loss of three cheap wickets meant that Kolkata needed Gayle and Hussey to replicate the efforts of Warner and Collingwood respectively.
On a slow wicket though, the medium pace of Rajat Bhatia was enough see him drag one into the outfield for 30 and Umesh Yadav took care of Hussey for an uncharacteristic 29. Clearly, Kolkata were outplayed.
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