Pandey, Pathan blunt Delhi Daredevil’s attack

KKR tops table with fourth win as Manish Pandey claimed the orange cap.

Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey were involved in a match-winning stand of 110 runs in 12 overs for the fourth wicket.   -  R. V. Moorthy

A target of 169, on a pitch as placid as the one at the Ferozshah Kotla ground, is far from intimidating. However, given the quality of Delhi Daredevils’ (DD) bowling, the task of the team chasing becomes more challenging.

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But on Monday evening, the team chasing was Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). It has the firepower and depth in batting to deal with any challenge. And on this day, the former Indian Premier League (IPL) champion once again showed its immense self-belief in the face of some early jolts.

It was another determined performance from KKR to make up for the dropped catches and failure of the top-order. Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan joined hands when the team was tottering at 21 for three in the third over, and raised a match-winning stand of 110 runs in 12 overs in the team’s four-wicket victory that came with a delivery to spare.

With nine runs needed off the last over, bowled by Amit Mishra, Chris Woakes played a dot ball and was stumped off the second. Sunil Narine took a single before Pandey hit a straight six and scrambled home for two to finish the chase.

Yusuf, the more aggressive of the two, was the first to take the battle to the opposition. Two successive boundaries off Pat Cummins gave him the confidence and he went on to smash four more besides the two sixes in his 39-ball 59. By the time Yusuf departed, offering a return catch to Chris Morris after miscuing a big hit, Kolkata was within 36 runs of victory.

Pandey continued to prove his utility in the face of adversity. He settled down to play an innings of quality, picking up two sixes off Mishra and four boundaries off different bowlers. No Delhi bowler made any impression on Pandey, who later received the “Orange Cap” for aggregating 221 runs.

The successful chase resulted in a third successive victory – fourth in five outings and reinforced KKR’s claim to the top spot in the league. This was Delhi’s second loss in matches.

Ironically, the failure of Delhi to contain KKR came on a day the team’s attack stood strengthened by the induction of Mohammed Shami and Angelo Mathews – replacements for Shahbaz Nadeem and an indisposed Corey Anderson.

When Delhi batted, its first batsmen failed to make good of the starts they got. Sanju Samson, Sam Billings, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer and the dangerous Rishabh Pant flattered to deceive.

Umesh Yadav had a forgettable day. He was hit for four boundaries in his first over that yielded 17 runs, including three fours by Samson and one by Billings. Off his fourth over, that began with a dot ball, Pant hit 6, 4, 6, 6, 4 to raise 26 runs.

If KKR managed to keep Delhi in control, it was mainly due to tight spells by Sunil Narine and new-man Nathan Coulter-Nile, who took three for 22 on debut for KKR after having played for Delhi till last season.