Knight Riders bowl; Daredevils drop Gambhir

Toss: Kolkata Knight Riders chose to bowl v Delhi Daredevils. Delhi Daredevils’ former captain Gautam Gambhir, who stepped down from the leadership on Wednesday after one win in six games, was excluded against his former IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders. Dinesh Karthik, Knight Riders’ captain, chose to bowl first in Delhi with the possibility of “dew in the evening”. Allrounder Vijay Shankar and opener Colin Munro were both brought back into the XI, for Gambhir and Dan Christian. Shreyas Iyer, Daredevils’ new captain, said he “wasn’t nervous last evening, but a little bit of pressure. There is time, but we need to win seven out of eight.” Knight Riders made one change, swapping Mitchell Johnson for Tom Curran. Prior to Friday’s game, Daredevils were at the bottom of the points table: their only win was against Mumbai Indians on April 14. Knight Riders, on the other hand, have split their six games and sit fourth on the table.

Delhi Daredevils: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Colin Munro, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Vijay Shankar, 7 Rahul Tewatia, 8 Liam Plunkett, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Avesh Khan, 11 Trent Boult.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Shubman Gill, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Shivam Mavi, 11 Kuldeep Yadav.

New captain Iyer’s 93* off 40 blows KKR away. Delhi Daredevils 219 for 4 (Iyer 93, Shaw 62, Munro 33) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 164 for 9 (Russell 44, Gill 37) by 55 runs. Thrusting a young player to a leadership position often goes one of two ways. Burdened by captaincy, a player’s performance in their main role – batting, bowling or keeping – can temporarily worsen, similar to Aiden Markram in South Africa’s ODI series against India earlier this year. Or the confidence of that position can buoy, and therefore improve, a player’s role, like Shreyas Iyer in Delhi on Friday. He smashed an unbeaten, 40-ball 93 to lead Delhi Daredevils to a resounding 55-run victory against Kolkata Knight Riders.

After a strong start, Iyer backed his hitting ability at No. 3. Primarily with a full face of the bat, he first accumulated before gradually increasing his tempo to the point where he took 28 runs off the final over, bowled by Shivam Mavi. He hit 10 sixes, four in the final over, powering Daredevils to 219, the highest score of the season. Such was Iyer’s proficiency with using the straight bat that he scored 77 – 83% of his runs – in front of square. Daredevils’ only worry in their defence was a 64-run partnership between Andre Russell and Shubman Gill. Russell had smashed 44 runs off 30 balls, 35 of which was scored in the arc between long-off and midwicket, but it was his form and ability that forced Iyer to use his best bowlers earlier. Eventually, Daredevils had sufficient confidence and runs to play with, easing to just their second win of the season.

With Gautam Gambhir dropped, Daredevils’ openers – Shaw and Colin Munro could adopt their own template. Before Friday, they had played just three games between them this season, which meant they carried less baggage than the rest of a floundering batting line-up. The Powerplay produced 57 runs, Daredevils’ average before this game was 48. The Powerplay also included 10 boundaries, Daredevils’ average was 6.66. Not only did Daredevils score considerably more runs, they also made a confident start to set the rest of their innings up. In the first seven overs, they made 59 runs. Munro scored 33 off 18, while Shaw struck 62 off 44 balls. Together, they faced a little over half the innings and scored 95 runs.

In Rishabh Pant and Glenn Maxwell, Daredevils arguably had more valuable scoring resources. Iyer backed his own hitting ability and walked in after Munro was bowled. With Iyer utilizing a few deliveries to get set, Shaw increased his strike rate. It included a flurry of elegant boundaries off Mitchell Johnson: a wristy whip over midwicket, a lofted chip over extra cover and a slapped six over square leg. Shaw was eventually dismissed, bowled hoicking across the line similar to the previous game, for 62. In the next seven overs, the pair added 68 runs. Iyer, then, took over.

Knight Riders banked on their powerful top order in a steep chase, but they were undone by clever use of short deliveries. First, Glenn Maxwell fired in his darts flat, disallowing Lynn from getting underneath the length. Lynn was bowled off the inside edge. Robin Uthappa was hurried for pace, splicing a pull to midwicket off Trent Boult. Sunil Narine backed away and lobbed a catch to cover off a bouncer, Boult’s only other wicket. Nitish Rana fended back to Avesh Khan a brute of a bouncer. At that point, Knight Riders were 46 for 4 in the sixth over, with the game all but done.