IPL: KKR consolidate pole position after easy win

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The Kolkata Knight Riders firmed up their place at the perch of the VIVO IPL 2017 standings after they defeated the Delhi Daredevils by seven wickets on Friday evening. After opting to chase, KKR did well to restrict the visitors to 160-6. Later on, the KKR captain Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa piloted the chase with half-centuries and helped their team gun down the runs in 16.2 overs.

The two experienced pros – Gambhir and Uthappa – got together after Sunil Narine’s stumps were shattered in the second-over of the chase. Uthappa announced his arrival in style, on-driving Rabada for a first-ball boundary. Gambhir collected his first boundary in the following over when he cut Corey Anderson through point.

Despite a couple of quiet overs, KKR raced to 47-1 by the time the fielding restrictions had been relaxed. In the seventh, Amit Mishra conceded 14 runs; Gambhir hit the leg-spinner for two boundaries, while Uthappa collected a late-cut boundary. Uthappa then got stuck into the fast bowlers; he hit Chris Morris for 6, 4, 6 off the first three balls of the eighth over, and then collected a pull-six and an on-driven four off Pat Cummins in the ninth over. Both batsmen carried on to get their half-centuries; Uthappa got to the milestone in 24 balls, while Gambhir got there in the twelfth over, needing 39 balls to get there.

Uthappa was dismissed for 59 – run by a direct hit by Karun Nair – and the 108-run partnership was broken. Gambhir ensured the job was done; he remained unbeaten on 71, made from 52 balls, and containing 11 hits to the fence. During his knock, Gambhir reached two significant milestones – 4000 runs in the IPL and 6000 runs in T20 cricket. KKR had chased down 161 in 16.2 overs, with seven wickets left in the kitty.

Kagiso Rabada was the only successful bowler for the Daredevils; he hit timber twice and finished with figures of 2-20 from his 3.2 overs. DD were not helped in their cause that Sanju Samson and Amit Mishra failed to call for a catch off Robin Uthappa when the batsman was on 9, and the ball landed in between the two fielders. Skipper Zaheer Khan too had to leave the field after bowling 2.5 overs with what appeared to be a hamstring strain.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Delhi Daredevils posted 160-6 after being put in to bat. Sanju Samson and Karun Nair – DD’s newest opening pair – helped the team to a solid start, with the former timing the ball brilliantly and playing some pleasing strokes. The blossoming stand was broken when Sunil Narine trapped Karun leg before wicket in the fifth over.

By the time the powerplay overs had been bowled, DD had reached 53-1, with Samson (30 from 16 balls, 4 fours & 1 six) having the company of Shreyas Iyer. The second wicket pair got busy – when they had the opportunity to keep the foot on the pedal; they two youngsters added 75 runs over a period of 9.1 overs. There was a period of play – between overs 3.2 and 11.0 – when not one boundary was scored.

Samson broke the shackles at the start of the twelfth over when he hit Kuldeep Yadav for a six over square-leg – and in the process brought up his half-century. Shreyas joined in the act in the following over when he collected a six and a boundary off Colin de Grandhomme.

The batsmen opted for the timeout at the end of the 13th over, and when play resumed, Shreyas collected boundaries off the first two balls. Later in the same over, Samson deposited Umesh Yadav into the stands at midwicket, before missing a full one from the bowler to be trapped in front of the stumps; Samson was dismissed for 60, made from 38 balls and studded with four boundaries and three sixes. There were two strokes that stood out in Samson’s knock: one, a square drive off Coulter-Nile in the third over, and then a pull six off Umesh Yadav just prior to his dismissal.

Heading into the business end, Delhi Daredevils would have been well-served with one well-set batsman at the crease. But that was not to be, as Shreyas too was dismissed in the sixteenth over; he made 47 from 34 balls, studded with four boundaries and a six. The visitors lost impetus at the back end, adding only 37 runs in the final six overs, to finish at a modest 160-6.

For the hosts, Coulter-Nile – back in the KKR XI – was the most impressive; the Australian returned figures of 3-34. Narine (1-25) gave his team the first breakthrough and then returned to control things in the middle overs along with Kuldeep Yadav. (IPLT20)

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