Gambhir tops Sehwag

Kolkata Knight Riders knock Delhi Daredevils off perch with a six-wicket cruise at Kotla

Written by G.S. Vivek | New Delhi | Published: May 8, 2012 1:42:23 am

Gautam Gambhir is usually quite an intense character on the cricket field. But on Monday evening,he took that intensity to another level by yelling at Mahela Jayawardene,after the batsman,having edged the ball,refused to walk. While it forced the Delhi Daredevils batsman to break out of his calm demeanour and reply angrily,the moment only proved just what was riding on this match. And also,how desperately KKR,and their steely skipper,wanted to win this one.

Having occurred in just the fifth over of the game,the incident set the stage for a highly volatile clash between the front runners of this IPL season. Until then,Delhi openers Virender Sehwag and David Warner had decimated the Kolkata bowlers,having notched 40 runs in 3.3 overs. Sehwag and Warner fell to Jacques Kallis before the score touched fifty. And with Jayawardene’s wicket a couple of balls later,Kallis would have had three,but more importantly,KKR would have finished off the game in the first innings itself,considering there was no Kevin Pietersen to marshall the Delhi middle-order.

Jaywardene survived,Gambhir lost his mind and matter,before the Sri Lankan went on to score 30. As for Delhi,they scored a competitive 153 — the second highest total against KKR this season. But everything Gambhir could not do with his words,he did with his runs,as his bat spoke louder than his mouth during the chase. Gambhir led the way with a blistering 36,Brendon McCullum anchored in 56 runs and Kallis,to go with his twin strikes with the ball,scored 30 sturdy runs to lead KKR to a comfortable six-wicket win to snatch the top spot from the Daredevils at the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium.

At the end of the night,the difference between the two sides was a simple one. While the Delhi unit have witnessed a certain amount of attrition and personnel changes in their side,KKR have been pretty much insulated from it — their playing XI having remained unchanged right through the course of this season. So,as Delhi struggled to come to terms with Pietersen’s absence and a soft-bellied middle-order,the usual suspects for KKR did the job for them.

Delhi scored 50 runs within the powerplay,mainly because Sehwag and Warner scored 17 runs each off Pradeep Sangwan and Brett Lee respectively. But the moment they were dismissed — Kallis trapped Sehwag lbw,before having Warner caught behind — it was all downhill from there on. It was the captain’s first failure in six innings (if a nine-ball 23 could be considered a failure,that is),ensuring that five half-fifties on the trot would remain the benchmark for T20 specialists around the world. After that,Delhi managed to add just 103 in the last 14 overs of the innings.

Reshuffled batting order

Jayawardene did his best by shuffling outside off,playing cheeky sweeps and also his version of a ‘dilscoop’,but he got no support from his batting partner — the horribly out-of-form Ross Taylor. Once again,the Kiwi tried to play himself in,but only managed to play out more deliveries than he could score off.

The last five Delhi batters managed to hit only five boundaries between them — four of them coming off Irfan Pathan’s blade,who top-scored with 36 in this shuffled batting card. Kolkata’s batting was a lot more organised. Gambhir and McCullum gnawed 68 runs away in the first seven overs,while McCullum and Kallis added 60 to all but seal the win.

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