Kolkata Knight Riders cruised to a comfortable 9-wicket win in their opening game over Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens today. Andre Russell and Brad Hogg took three wickets each to hold the visitors down to a paltry total of 98 before Gambhir and co chased it down without breaking a sweat.
Chasing a small target of 99, the Knight Riders were off to a galloping start. Two old warhorses, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan, went up against each other once again, and this time the KKR skipper came out on top. The southpaw flicked Zaheer for two boundaries down the leg side, as the pacer strayed onto his pads.
Robin Uthappa was not to be left too far behind, as he matched his captain blow for blow. He drove Zaheer through the cover boundary in the final ball of the 2nd over, before he went after Coulter-Nile in the third over, hitting him for two back-to-back boundaries.
The duo brought up the 50-run partnership in the eighth over, and they were cruising to a comfortable win at that point. The dew on the surface was not helping the visiting team's cause as well, with the bowlers struggling to get purchase off the surface, which KKR bowlers extracted in the first innings.
Eventually, something went Delhi's way when Uthappa was caught out at long on while trying to hit Mishra out of the park. However, it was too little too late as Gambhir and Manish Pandey knocked off the remaining runs with ease and guided their team to a 9-wicket win.
Earlier, after hosting the IPL final a week back, the Eden Gardens played host to the Kolkata Knight Riders' opening game in the ninth season of the Indian Premier League. Rahul Dravid also returned to the stadium in his new avatar as the mentor of the Delhi-based side. Gautam Gambhir won the toss and opted to bowl first on a surface which had a bit of grass on it. There were some questionable team selections from both sides, with KKR leaving out Shakib Al Hasan and DD opting to bench both JP Duminy and Imran Tahir.
Delhi were off to a quick start as Andre Russell's opening delivery of the innings was lofted into the cover boundary by Mayank Agarwal, while Manish Pandey conceded four runs from an overthrow in the final ball of the first over.
At the other end, Quinton de Kock threatened to continue from where he left off at the World T20, as he went after Umesh Yadav in the second over. The South African pulled Yadav for a boundary and a six, and looked in imperious form.
But, Delhi's honeymoon was short-lived. They went from 23/0 in 2 overs, to 35/4 in 5.3 overs. Andre Russell picked up three of those wickets as he ripped through the top-order like a scythe, troubling them with his pace, bounce and just the right amount of movement - however, the batsmen deserve as much credit for the dismissals as the bowler. De Kock fell to a false shot, Shreyas Iyer was trapped in front of the wicket, and Mayank Agarwal sliced one down to the third-man fielder while attempting an extravagant heave. Within four balls, Karun Nair guided a juicy half-volley from John Hastings into the hands of Manish Pandey at backward point, and mentor Rahul Dravid could only shake his head in disappointment at the dugout.
Sanju Samson and Pawan Negi made an effort to rebuild the innings with a cautious 20-run partnership, before it was nipped in the bud by 45-year-old youngster Brad Hogg. The Australian deceived Negi in the flight, and Robin Uthappa took off the bails in a flash.
World Cup final hero Carlos Brathwaite walked onto the pitch, and the man who hit four sixes in 'that' final over, started off by dismissing Piyush Chawla into the stands. However, three balls later, the bowler got the better of him. The leggie bamboozled Brathwaite with a googly and trapped him in front of the stumps.
While the fast bowlers did the damage with the new ball, the spinners spun a web of magic with a slightly older one. Piyush Chawla and Brad Hogg took five wickets between them as Delhi was dismissed for 98 in the 18th over.
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