Right start by Knights

Calcutta: Gautam Gambhir hardly put a foot wrong and Kolkata Knight Riders didn't disappoint. There were anxious and nervous moments, but in the end it was a perfect launch to the defence of their IPL title.

A couple of hours before the start, Gambhir had tweeted: "Purple is our colour and gold is what we are after!!!"

Perhaps the six-wicket victory is an indication of his resolve and keenness to emulate Chennai Super Kings' exploits in winning it for the second consecutive time.

A near capacity Eden Gardens was swinging to the Knight Riders' tune korbo, lorbo, jeetbo re. There was no stopping their team boss, too.

Shah Rukh Khan was delirious in his box the best part of the evening clapping, dancing, gyrating, whistling and egging his supporters on.

As the Delhi DareDevils were flailing and falling for the most part of Wednesday, the Knights proved their supremacy with a display of authority and determination.

Despite the individual brilliance, the Knight Riders captain will remind you of the efforts of "Team KKR". As the visitors dug themselves into a pit early, there was no looking back for Gambhir's men.

The 129-run target didn't look difficult until Shahbaz Nadeem and Johan Botha gave the DareDevils some hope with two quick wickets.

Gambhir proved that he hasn't lost his touch with a timely 42 off 29 balls that set the tone for the chase.

There were the trademark cuts over the infield and the flicks past square leg, but more importantly, the innings provided the assurance the team aspires for at the start.

Jacques Kallis and Manoj Tiwary were also in their elements. Their quick dismissals put the side under pressure until Eoin Morgan and Yusuf Pathan stepped in to bail the side out of the crisis with eight balls remaining.

Gambhir's decision to field worked wonders. The Knight Riders captain didn't wish to make first use of the newly-laid wicket after being circumspect about what would make a decent target.

Mentor-cum-player Brett Lee gave the defending champions a dream start ' a wicket off the first ball of the match. World Cup-winning under-19 captain Unmukt Chand was left clueless by the pace and away movement that knocked his off stump.

Sunil Narine was not to be left behind as he returned to his miserly wicket-taking ways. Perhaps the IPL and Eden Gardens revived memories of his exploits last year inspiring him to return to his threatening best. Narine's four for 13 was a timely reminder that his four overs will make a difference in this edition too.

David Warner's nightmare against the spinners doesn't seem to have ended with the Test series in India. Having got used to the pace and bounce and looking in firm control against the pacers, he was dismissed of the first delivery he faced from Sunil Narine.

The ball jumped and turned a bit more than he expected and the edge landed in the hands of Kallis at first slip. The DareDevils were cruising with Warner and Jayawardene adding 44 off 34 balls before the West Indies off-spinner curtailed the run flow.

The run-rate suddenly dropped as the DareDevils struggled to break free.

The inexperience and lack of quality in their middle-order showed once Manpreet Juneja and Naman Ojha struggled against the likes of Kallis and Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Gambhir's captaincy acumen also played its part as he held back Narine for the end overs after he had given them the most important breakthrough.

The absence of Virender Sehwag, Warner possessed the ability to turn things around single-handedly, and as he threatened to unleash his pyrotechnics, the Narine magic worked wonders.

There was only one man the Knight Riders couldn't conquer. Jayawardene was neither troubled by the slow nature of the pitch nor Narine's guile.

The circumstances may have prompted him to be a bit cautious, but there was no missing the calm assurance that he always brings to the crease.

It was only towards the end of the innings that he launched into Brett Lee, with a six and a boundary in the 19 th over, before chipping a Lee full toss into the hands of cover.

But Jayawardene's 66 off 52 balls had class written all over it and once again showed that there's room for cricketing shots even in the slam-bang world of Twenty20 cricket.


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