Skipper Gautam Gambhir stroked his way to a fantastic 69 to steer Kolkata Knight Riders to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over a hapless Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground on Wednesday.
Chasing a modest 161 for victory, Gambhir and Robin Uthappa (47) stitched together a 106-run partnership to provide a perfect winning platform as Kolkata cantered to the target in 18.2 overs.
Starting on cautious note, the duo gradually gained the momentum and punished the Delhi attack led by Mohammad Shami.
Gambhir picked a sliding leg-side delivery from Laxmi Ratan Shukla for a six at mid-wicket region to make his intent clear in the fifth over of the innings as the southpaw got his second half-century of the season.
Uthappa also showed his aggressive side against Jean-Paul Duminy to come down against the South African off-spinner and hit a huge six in the widish long-on region.
The duo gained confidence with every passing delivery to demoralise the Delhi attack as skipper Kevin Pietersen kept juggling his bowling options.
South African left-arm pacer Wayne Parnell finally managed to deny Uthappa his fifty as the Karnataka batsman was caught behind for 47 off 34 deliveries.
Manish Pandey (23 not out) then played the perfect supporting role to make sure that Kolkata do not repeat the Ahmedabad fiasco, where the team lost six wickets for two runs, eventually gifting the match to Rajasthan Royals.
On a day when nothing worked for Delhi and everything went in Gambhir’s favour, the left-hander did survive a drop catch and an open run out.
He was finally caught behind while trying to pull a rising Parnell delivery as Dinesh Karthik gloved a beauty in the 18th over. It was left to Kallis (10 not out) to complete the formalities.
With misfields galore, the Delhi fielders did little to help their tired-looking bowlers.
Earlier electing to bat on a hot and humid day, Delhi posted a respectable 160 for five in 20 overs. Duminy smacked 40 off 28 balls while Kedar Jadhav blasted 26 off 15 to manage a 55-run unbeaten stand and provide the necessary impetus in the end.
Kolkata opened the bowling with off-spinner Suryakumar Yadav with Kallis sharing the new ball.
Umesh Yadav drew first blood for Kolkata in the third over, getting De Kock (10)caught by Gautam Gambhir at mid-on.
Pietersen (6) looked completely out of sorts in his short stay at the wicket and after being circumspect against the spinners the England batsman ran himself out while trying to take a needless run.
Murali Vijay (24) and Dinesh Karthik (36) then tried to stabilise the innings as KKR continued to juggle their bowling options. The duo added 31 runs for the third-wicket as both the batsmen mixed the right dose of caution and aggression to give some momentum to the continued…