The beauty of the IPL is that you get to see two teammates of international cricket battle it out against each other. With the match between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils delicately poised after 17 overs of the second innings, with the latter needing 32 from the final three, Jean-Paul Duminy stepped up, used that brilliant blade of his to thump the white leather to unbelievable effect, and consign his South Africa teammate Morne Morkel to the I-want-to-dig-a-hole-and-hide zone.
Twenty one runs from that over and the Daredevils did not look back as the Delhi side pulled off a nail-biting victory over KKR, who would have thought they were on their way to a second consecutive victory in IPL 7 after posting 166 for five in their 20 overs, courtesy sound knocks from Manish Pandey (48) and Robin Uthappa (55).
Dinesh Karthik (56), captaining the side again with Kevin Pietersen still injured, started to live up to that Rs 12.5 crore price tag with a nice half-century, before Duminy (52 n.o.) finished the match with great skill and aplomb to take his side to a four-wicket win with three balls remaining.
There was to be no perfect start for the Daredevils, with Murali Vijay lazily running himself out for a duck, although a lot of credit must also go to Pandey, who pulled off a brilliant direct hit.
Mayank Agarwal, though, tonked a few right from the off to keep the required run rate well within check as Delhi Daredevils raced to 31 in the first three overs. One aggressive shot too many, though, sent Agarwal (26, 14b, 3x4) back, with the right-hander top-edging a pull shot attempt off Morne Morkel, just a ball after escaping with a similar mistimed shot.
So, the onus was on Karthik to keep the chase on track, while Ross Taylor looked to play another anchor-like innings, similar to the one he did in the last game against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Taylor, however, lasted only nine deliveries, before being cleaned up by Jacques Kallis, who was desperate to make up for his first-ball duck in the first innings. JP Duminy, though, came in, and just like the last game, calmed the game down, with Karthik playing quite freely at the other end.
Karthik was playing one of those knocks which made him such a big hit with the Mumbai Indians, with it taking the Delhi Daredevils closer and closer to the target, with the team in blue needing 50 from the final six overs.
With Narine in the lineup for KKR, they were never going to be out of it, and the West Indies magician picked up the vital wicket of Karthik (56, 40b, 5x4, 2x6), trapping him in front of the wicket, with the DD skipper getting himself in a muddle while attempting an ill-advised reverse sweep.
Only six runs came from that 15th over meant DD needed another 44 runs from the final five overs, with Narine still left with one more over to bowl. Morkel dismissed Manoj Tiwary in the next over with the equation reading 40 from the last four overs.
From 32 needed in the final 18 balls, JP Duminy and his left-handed brilliance brought it down to an "easy" 11 from the final 12 balls, with the Delhi slugger carting his compatriot Morkel for 21 runs.
After that outstanding over for the Daredevils, Narine (4-0-18-1) pulled it back for KKR, conceding just five runs to take it the final over, bowled by Piyush Chawla, with Delhi still requiring six runs for victory. Duminy (52, 35b, 3x4, 3x6), after watching Neesham hole out in the deep, kept his calm and flicked a brilliant six over fine-leg to give the Daredevils a stunning victory.
Earlier, KKR were jolted by the DD pacers in the first couple of overs, before Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa came to the fore, putting on a brilliant partnership which helped their team go well past 160.
Mohammed Shami sent Kallis, who had scored a match-winning knock in the previous game, back to the pavilion off the first legal delivery of the match, getting the ball to shape away and with it taking the outside edge.
Gautam Gambhir's nothing- to-write-about tournament continued, with the skipper out for a second consecutive duck, falling prey to a trap set by KKR by flicking a delivery straight to JP Duminy at leg slip off Nathan Coulter-Nile.
With two wickets gone inside two overs, KKR desperately needed a partnership and it came via the Karnataka duo of Uthappa and Pandey. The two put on under-pressure 64 runs from 9.2 overs to take KKR out of seriously troubled waters, and lay the platform for the final assault.
Pandey (48, 42b, 5x4) was more the aggressor in the partnership, scoring 45 of those 64 runs, while ensuring the run rate was never too low to render the smash-bang at the end of the innings useless.
The explosive right-hander fell in the 11th over to Shahbaz Nadeem, playing onto his stumps after smashing a couple of consecutive fours.
Uthappa, though, took up the mantle, making full use of the life given to him by Ross Taylor when he was on just seven, with the former RCB and Pune Warriors man catching fire in the second half of the innings. Uthappa was on 15 from 19 deliveries when Pandey got out, but that modest strike rate and runs quickly changed with a couple of big overs.
Soon enough, Uthappa started to find boundaries and sixes in every over as the KKR onslaught hit full tilt, with Shakib Al Hasan (30 n.o., 22b, 2x4, 1x6) also joining in the fun towards the end as the Kolkata side scored 103 runs in the final ten overs, 54 from the final five, to push the total to a defendable one, particularly with their strong bowling lineup.
But, they did not account for Duminy and his unstoppable finishing powers.