A game which seemed to be firmly entrenched in Delhi Daredevils’ favour was prised out for Kolkata Knight Riders by a superb partnership between Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey. While the former smashed a 39-ball 59, the latter remained unbeaten on 69 off 49 balls to help the visitors pull off a last-gasp victory at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
The duo put on 110 runs for the fourth wicket and rescued the Knight Riders from a precarious position. With the thrilling win, Gautam Gambhir’s team flew to the top of the points table. Here’s how the events unfolded in the engrossing contest.
Pant blitz and seam potency put Delhi on top
It all began when Delhi skipper Zaheer Khan won the toss and surprisingly chose to bat first. The opening duo of Sanju Samson and Sam Billings laid into Kolkata’s bowlers to ensure a strong start. The former, in particular, was severe against the extra pace on offer. However, both batsmen fell in quick succession shortly after the Powerplay overs were completed.
Shreyas Iyer and Karun Nair looked to rebuild the innings by forming a partnership. The latter, though, struggled to find the boundary and could only score at a measly strike-rate. Once again, a couple of wickets within the space of a few deliveries threatened to derail the innings.
19-year old Rishabh Pant strode out to the crease. Full of intent, he unveiled a dazzling array of shots to restore the momentum in Delhi’s favour. The left-hander smashed a 16-ball 38 to set the stage for a final flourish. All-rounder Chris Morris chipped in with an attacking cameo to end the innings on a high.
Defending a competitive total, the Delhi bowlers made the new ball talk and created early inroads. Zaheer led from the front by sending back his counterpart Gautam Gambhir as well as makeshift opener Colin de Grandhomme.
Complementing the skipper’s experience, Pat Cummins’ searing pace troubled the Knight Riders. The Australian pacer tempted Robin Uthappa to play away from his body and found the outside edge. Showcasing his blossoming skills with the gloves, Pant pulled off a sensational catch to support his bowler’s work.
Pathan and Pandey turn the game on its head
At 21/3, the Knight Riders appeared to be unravelling pretty quickly. Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey had a mountain to climb in order to pull their team back into the contest. Going for the kill, Zaheer set attacking fields and targeted both batsmen with his battery of pacers.
Pathan did not withdraw into his shell. Instead, he attempted to break the shackles by clearing the in-field. The explosive right-hander got a hold of Cummins and smacked back to back boundaries to spark the beginning of a turnaround.
With the field restrictions eased, Amit Mishra was introduced into the attack. Pandey displayed his exemplary foot work by dancing down the track and launching the leg-spinner into the stands. Picking the gaps with ease, the compact right-hander also played quite a few intelligent shots to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Along the way, Pandey went past 2000 runs in the IPL. Even as Yusuf remained content with turning the strike over in the middle-overs, he targeted the boundary. A nonchalant flick of the wrist against Angelo Mathews sailed past the deep mid-wicket fence.
When Zaheer brought himself back into the equation, Pathan capitalised on the slight error in length and registered his first fifty of this season. However, his age-old issue against the short delivery returned to haunt him.
A slew of tight overs applied pressure on the new man Suryakumar Yadav as Delhi sensed a revival. Cummins dismissed the 26-year old to evoke the possibility of one fateful twist in the game. But, Pandey was still going strong at the other end.
The action-packed final over
With just nine runs to defend off the final over, Zaheer pulled off an unexpected move. Instead of opting for Mohammed Shami, he threw the ball to his premier spinner, Amit Mishra. Even though Mishra is a seasoned campaigner and possessed the ability to bowl at the death overs, the pressure was creeping up to unbearable levels.
The move appeared to be working when the wily wrist-spinner flummoxed Chris Woakes with his loopy turn. After opening the innings for KKR in the last couple of games, Sunil Narine came into the middle right at the business stage of the match.
The southpaw remained composed and stole a single to bring the set batsman back on strike. Pandey proceeded to impart the decisive blow in the fourth delivery of the over. Despite Mishra firing a fuller one outside the off-stump, he reached out and sent the ball flying over the long-on boundary.
Realising that he was in the driver’s seat, Pandey kept his nerve and refrained from attempting another big hit. Upon calmly nudging the ball through the vacant region between mid-wicket and cover, he returned for the second run to complete a nail-biting four-wicket victory for the Knight Riders. His brilliant partnership with Yusuf had sparked a resounding turnaround.