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Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) spoiled Gautam Gambhir’s return to Kolkata after beating Delhi Daredevils (DD) by a margin of 71 runs on Monday. Incidentally, this was also KKR’s first win at Eden Gardens in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018. It was a thoroughly professional performance by the purple brigade as they dominated with the willow and the ball. Put into bat first, KKR put up a challenging total of 200/9 in 20 overs, courtesy of Nitish Rana’s composed 59 (34 balls) and Andre Rusell’s blistering 42 (12 balls). Chasing under lights, Delhi Daredevils failed to get off to a good start and kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Young Shivam Mavi had a memorable evening as he scalped Gautam Gambhir’s wicket. Sunil Narine was equally impressive with figures of 3/18 and went on to become the third bowler in IPL history to bag 100 wickets. Scoreboard pressure ultimately got the better of Delhi batsmen as they lost the last 7 wickets for 43 runs and were finally bowled out for 129.
Earlier, after winning the toss Gambhir invited the opposition to bat first on a sultry evening. KKR began slowly but stepped on the gas after the first five overs. Robin Uthappa was particularly aggressive against Shahbaz Nadeem, smashing him for 18 runs in over. However, he departed soon after and the responsibility of carrying the innings forward was left to Nitish Rana. The 24-year-old showed immense maturity to anchor the innings and bring up his fifth IPL 50. But it was the Andre Russell’s whirlwind 42 off just 12 balls which pushed the run rate upto 10 runs per over and it seemed like KKR were on course to surpass 200. But the fall of his wicket and a brilliant last over by Rahul Tewatia – where the leg-spinner conceded just one run and bagged 3 wickets, restricted the scorecard to 200/9.
In reply, Delhi suffered early setbacks as the top three batsmen departed in the powerplay overs. KKR seemed on top at that stage with Delhi reeling at 24/3 in 3 overs. But a 62-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Rishabh Pant and Glenn Maxwell steadied the ship and brought Delhi back into the game. Both the batsmen took an aggressive approach as runs flowed thick and fast. But once Pant departed for 43 (26 balls), the run chase derailed in its path. The onus to take the game down to the wire was left on Glenn Maxwell and as long as he was present in the middle, DD fancied their chances despite needed more than 10 runs per over. But once he fell to Kuldeep Yadav’s leg-spin, it was only a matter of time before KKR completed the formalities. Ultimately DD’s innings folded up for 129 earning KKR a handsome win.