Kolkata, April 3 (IANS) Holders Kolkata Knight Riders gave a fluent start to their campaign with an emphatic six wicket win over a depleted Daredevils in the sixth Indian Premier League opener here Wednesday.
The hosts proved their all-round might by first skittling out the Daredevils for 128, with Caribbean offie Sunil Narine (4/13) doing the main damage taking a wicket in each of his four overs, and then coasted to victory with eight balls to spare before a capacity crowd at the iconic Eden Gardens here.
Eoin Morgan hit the winning single as the Knights reached 129/4 to send owner Shahrukh Khan into a delirium, as he waved and cheered from the super hospitality box.
Save an initial shocker, when opener Manvinder Bisla (5) fell in the second over, the Knights never really looked in danger of losing their way, despite slowing down after Gautam Gambhir (42; 29 b, 5×4, 1×6) and Manoj Tiwary (23; 23 b, 2×4) fell in quick succession.
In the end, Morgan (14 not out) and Yusuf Pathan (18 not out) carried the team to victory without any fuss.
But it was Gambhir and Kallis (23; 20 b, 5×4) who set the stage for KKR’s triumph with a 47-run second wicket stand after Bisla’s dismissal. The South African departed in the eighth over by miscuing a shot to mid wicket,
Gambhir, who was lucky to have been dropped at 14 by Ashish Nehra, then added 41 more in partnerhip with Tiwary to enable the home side establish a tight grip.
Gambhir returned in the 14th over, but then the dye was already cast.
Earlier, sent in to bat on a sluggish wicket, the Delhi franchisee found strokemaking difficult and most of their batsmen threw their wickets cheaply in their bid to force the pace.
The sole exception was skipper Mahela Jayawardene (66: 52 b, 8×4, 1×6), who played a smooth knock and got out only in the penultimate over as he went for an uppish shot off Brett Lee and was taken by Narine in the covers.
Jayawardene, who completed 1,500 runs in the IPL, reached his half-century off 46 balls.
Except Jayawardene and Warner (21), none of the Delhi willowers could reach double figures.
The match had a sensational start, with Aussie pacer Brett Lee straightaway dislodging the young Unmukt Chand’s off stump with a sharp away-cutter, much to joy of the packed crowd.
Jayawardene and David Warner, however, repaired the early damage by scoring at a brisk pace as the Daredevils scampered to 41/1 after five overs.
Warner looked in fine touch, picking up boundaries mainly on the leg side, with Kallis getting most of the stick.
However, Caribbean offie Sunil Narine, who shone with 24 wickets in the previous edition of the tourney, saw the back of Warner (21; 19b, 4×4) by inducing an edge that finished at first slip, as the visitors stood at 44/2 in the sixth over.
Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals, as Manprit Juneja, Naman Ojha, Johan Botha and Irfan Pathan fell cheaply, even though Jayawardene anchored the innings at one end.
For those fascinated with statistics, Delhi reached 68/3 at the halfway stage.
For the knights, striving to defend their title, Narine (4/13), Bhatia (2/23) and Lee (2/40) were the main wicket takers.