Knight RidersIn the 17th match of the 2015 Indian Premier League at Delhi’s Firozshah Kotla ground, Delhi lost the home game to a shoddy batting performance. Once again the KKR pace bowlers, Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel came up with some superb bowling and caused early damage. As the pitch deteriorated, Piyush Chawala and Sunil Narine also applied pressure. The KKR bowlers thus managed to restrict Delhi Daredevils to a modest and easily defendable total of 146/8 in 20 overs. None of the DD batsmen could get into his groove and lost their wickets, when they could have stuck around. 147 was no big deal, when Gautam Gambhir came out to open with Robin Uthappa. Though, Uthappa fell early, Gambhir first had Suryakumar Yadav and then Yusuf Pathan, with whom he carried on to move merrily towards the victory target. Gambhir completed his third half century in four games and when he got out to a well compiled 60 off 49 balls, KKR were just 3 runs away from victory. With Pathan striking form, there were no worries for KKR as they wrapped up the 6-wicket victory with 11 balls left in the match.

Neither Duminy nor Gambhir was sure about the behavior of the Kotla pitch and the best course in such circumstances was chasing the target. Therefore, when Gambhir got lucky with the coin toss, he didn’t hesitate to send Delhi Daredevils to bat first. From the first balls bowled by Umesh Yadav, it seemed that batting would be no problem as the bounce was even. But Delhi batsmen fell to their own blunders. The first to go was Mayank Agarwal, who hurried into playing a lofted shot in the second over to a short ball from Morkel. Agarwal could only manage a huge top edge that was nicely held by Umesh Yadav at long leg. Daredevils had another blow in the fifth over, when Sunil Narine pitched a ball on the leg-side and Duminy went for a sweep. As the batsman missed, the ball probably struck the top of his pad and ricocheted onto the leg stump. Shreyas Iyer and Manoj Tiwary took the baton from here and added 36 runs for the third wicket before Piyush Chawala foxed Iyer and uprooted his off stump as the batsman shaped for a leg-side sweep. Now Tiwary had the company of Yuvraj Singh, who is yet to show his mettle for DD. The two batsmen added 37 more runs to the score but the rate of scoring wasn’t great. It was a big day for Yuvraj to turn things around and make his mark. But IPL’s most expensive player lost the opportunity. After Tiwary popped up a simple catch to Yusuf Pathan to fall as the fourth wicket, Yuvraj’s tentativeness got the better of him. After he missed a sweep off Piyush Chawala, Yuvraj wandered out of the crease like a novice even as the ball was rolling to the keeper. Robin Uthappa missed the stumping on the first attempt and Yuvraj still failed to realize that he was gifting his wicket away. Before Yuvraj could come to his senses, Uthappa took the bails off in the second attempt to stump out the batsman. It was surprising that the act should come from someone so vastly experienced in international cricket. After so many wickets were lost so cheaply, Angelo Mathews and Kedar Jadhav did their bit and took DD’s score to 146/8 in 20 overs.

The target of 147 for the win was too soft for KKR. Although they lost the wickets of Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey in the fifth over from Domnic Muthuswami, Gambhir carried on in the company of Suryakumar Yadav. They added 48 for the third wicket before Yadav got out. Despite losing 3 wickets for 79 runs, there was no anxiety in the KKR camp as DD bowlers failed to impress either Gambhir or the new batsman Yusuf Pathan. The two batsmen stroked freely and never looked in trouble. When KKR were 3 runs away from victory, Gambhir was bowled by Imran Tahir. But with Pathan in sound touch, reaching the target was just a formality. KKR won their third match this season in four outings and they look good this year after lifting the IPL trophy last year.