Knights in drop zone

Missed chances only add to Kolkata’s misery as David Warner’s 62 n.o guide Daredevils home

Written by Express News Service | Raipur | Published: May 2, 2013 2:40:41 am

Three balls ago,Virender Sehwag had opened the face of his bat and steered Jacques Kallis past point for four. Now,he attempted the same stroke. The ball,however,was closer to him,and bounced a touch more. Instead of running away into the off side,it popped up towards Yusuf Pathan at slip. Yusuf juggled it,but clung on as he fell to his knees.

Of all the players who ran up to Kallis to celebrate the wicket,none looked as pumped up as Gautam Gambhir. The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper had dropped a sitter off Sehwag in the previous over. Gambhir’s relief soon turned to excitement. First ball,next over,Lakshmipathy Balaji got one to straighten a touch and kiss Mahela Jayawardene’s edge. Kallis barely moved as the ball disappeared into his massive hands at slip. Delhi Daredevils,chasing 137,were 27 for two after 4.1 overs.

Kolkata’s fingers,however,still retained a smear or two of butter. So did the gloves of wicketkeeper Manvinder Bisla. David Warner and Unmukt Chand had taken the score to 56 for two when Rajat Bhatia ran in to bowl the final ball of the 10th over. Warner walked down the track,but completely missed the line of the off cutter. Bisla muffed the stumping chance.

Exactly two overs later,Warner swung Bhatia in the direction of long on. Kallis,running to his right,reached above his head. The ball descended,smacked into the South African’s palms,and bounced over the ropes. Delhi now needed 59 from 48.

Sunil Narine began his third over. He had conceded only three runs in his first two,and had tormented both batsmen,particularly Chand,who seemed to have no idea which way the ball was going to turn. Had Kolkata grabbed either of the chances Warner offered them,Narine might have been bowling to a new,uncertain batsman. Instead,Warner faced him. Narine’s second ball was a touch short. Warner waited,opened his face,and guided it smartly through the point region for four. This,perhaps,was the moment that confirmed that the game had swung completely Delhi’s way.

Chand drove home the point in the next over,with two fours behind the wicket off Kallis,the first a full,straight ball tucked neatly off his pads,the second a bouncer helped over the keeper’s head.

Warner then took consecutive fours off Balaji,going from 47 to 51 with the second,before Chand slashed one high towards Sumit Narwal at third man. Almost predictably,the ball bounced out of his hands. Balaji finally clung on to one on the leg side boundary to send back Chand for 37,but it was too late by then. An over later,Delhi had won,with 2.1 overs to spare,and caught up with Kolkata on the table,with three wins and seven defeats.

Poor run rate

Right from the time Gambhir had been run out in the first over of the match,without facing a ball,Kolkata had struggled to find any sort of momentum. Yusuf,Kallis and Eoin Morgan managed only 42 between them,and when Debabrata Das was dismissed for a 26-ball 18,Kolkata were 84 for six in the 16th over,their run rate well below six an over.

That they posted 136 was down largely to a smart partnership of 30 between Rajat Bhatia and Sumit Narwal,two Delhi boys. The left-handed Narwal was particularly enterprising,pulling his Ranji teammate Ashish Nehra for four off the second ball he faced before smacking Umesh Yadav for consecutive fours. In Umesh’s next over,he backed away and sliced him cleverly over point’s head for another four before holing out next ball. The innings still needed a final push,and it came from Lee,who bashed Nehra for two big sixes in the final over.

When the innings ended,Delhi’s bowling figures made for an interesting read. Irfan Pathan,Morne Morkel and Shahbaz Nadeem had gone at less than a run-a-ball. Nehra and Umesh,on the other hand,had both conceded over nine an over.

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