The Delhi Daredevils showed that fight they have found under Rahul Dravid and Paddy Upton again to top the Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL 2016 match at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday. Coming off an agonising defeat to the Gujarat Lions, DD looked in deep trouble early in the match, but they showed all those fighting capabilities yet again to get the better of a KKR side, who folded in a high-pressure chase.
Put in to bat first, the Delhi Daredevils were in all sorts of trouble at 32/3, but Karun Nair (68, 50b, 9x4, 1x6) and Sam Billings (54, 34b, 3x4, 2x6) put on a fabulous partnership to guide DD, with a little help from the big-hitting Carlos Brathwaite, to 186/8 in 20 overs.
KKR, after losing Gautam Gambhir early, never really kept up with the required run rate, and despite an outstanding effort from Robin Uthappa (72, 52b, 6x4, 2x6), the former champions fell well short, getting bowled out for 159 in 18.3 overs, to suffer their second loss in a row in IPL 2016.
Gambhir and Uthappa tried to do what they do best â€“ give KKR a solid start in a big chase. However, after 17 balls in the chase, Gambhir was outfoxed by Zaheer Khan (3.3-0-21-3), with a leading edge falling nicely to Shreyas Iyer at cover.
With his skipper gone, Uthappa took over the anchor duties, playing that role to a T, even when wickets tumbled around him, as Piyush Chawla (8, 5b, 2x5), Yusuf Pathan (10, 9b, 1x4), both sent in earlier than normal, Suryakumar Yadav (21, 13b, 1x4, 1x6) and Rajagopal Sathish (6, 7b, 1x4) fell, to leave KKR on 107/5 in the 14th over.
When Andre Russell walked in, KKR needed over two runs a ball at 80 from 39. While that equation looked difficult, with Uthappa in control and Russell, well, being Russell, a win for the Kolkata Knight Riders was still well within the realms of possibility. And that possibility turned into probability after Uthappa and Russell went into tonk town, smashing 44 runs in 3.3 overs.
However, with KKR needing 36 from 19 balls, the game turned again, and well and truly in the Delhi Daredevils' favour, as three wickets fell in the space of five balls.
Russell (17, 12b, 2x4, 1x6) was the first to go, brilliantly caught by Amit Mishra, smashed for 15 runs in the first five balls of the over, who just got his hands up to a ball that was bulleted straight back by the West Indian.
Jason Holder then ran himself out after failing to spot the ball, before the match ended as a contest when Uthappa sliced one off Morris to Karun Nair at short third man.
The Delhi Daredevils got off to an awful start in their first innings, losing both openers â€“ Shreyas Iyer and Quinton de Kock â€“ in the first over. Russell (4-0-26-3) was the man to do the damage, first trapping Iyer, suffering a bad IPL, in front of the wicket, before inducing a mishit pull shot from De Kock off a short ball.
Sanju Samson and Karun Nair, the two youngsters that India have high hopes for, came together for a 30-run partnership just to steady the ship a little, before Sunil Narine got one to miss Samson's bat and strike his pad plumb in front of the wicket.
At 32/3 in five overs, it looked like the Delhi Daredevils would do well to get to about 140-150, but Nair and Sam Billings, on his IPL debut, had other plans. The two right-handers went about, not just doing the repair work, but building a foundation for a big score, with some wonderful touch play, running and big-hitting when needed.
Nair (68, 50b, 9x4, 1x6) and Billings (54, 34b, 3x4, 2x6) put on 105 runs together in 11.2 overs and just like that, the Delhi Daredevils looked capable of scoring a defendable total. With Carlos Brathwaite (34, 11b, 3x4, 3x6), back in the side for Imran Tahir, coming in and whacking like only he can, DD got to that and more, setting them up for a big win.