Three changes for Knight Riders as Capitals opt to field

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Joe Denly, 2 Robin Uthappa, 3 Carlos Brathwaite, 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Shubman Gill, 6 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 7 Andre Russell, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Lockie Ferguson, 11 Prasidh Krishna.
Delhi Capitals: 1 Prithvi Shaw, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Colin Ingram, 5 Rishabh Pant (wk), 6 Chris Morris, 7 Axar Patel, 8 Rahul Tewatia, 9 Keemo Paul, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Ishant Sharma.

Delhi Capitals win the toss and bowl against Kolkata Knight Riders

Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer chose to field first after winning the toss against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens – chasing suits them, Iyer said, calling the pitch a “belter”. Capitals made one change, dropping Sandeep Lamichhane, the legspinner from Nepal, in favour of West Indian allrounder Keemo Paul.

Knight Riders, however, made three changes: Lockie Ferguson, Joe Denly and Carlos Brathwaite came in, and out went Sunil Narine, Harry Gurney and Chris Lynn. The home side are coming into the match on the back of a sobering defeat at the hands of Chennai Super Kings in a low-scoring match in Chennai and must bounce back to stay in second place on the table. Capitals, meanwhile, would want to keep their momentum going after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last game.

Delhi Capitals 180 for 3 (Dhawan 97*, Pant 46) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 178 for 7 (Gill 65, Russell 45, Morris 2-38, Rabada 2-42) by seven wickets. Shikhar Dhawan was denied a maiden T20 century, but Delhi Capitals would gladly take the two points that took them to their fourth win of the season. That he missed out on the landmark was because Colin Ingram decided to launch Piyush Chawla over long-on with Capitals needing five off eight deliveries. Kolkata Knight Riders, who slumped to their second straight defeat, should’ve ended with a bigger score than their 178 for 7. Promoted to open in place of the missing Sunil Narine, Shubman Gill notched up his second IPL half-century, a 39-ball 65, to set it up for the box-office boy Andre Russell.

The Jamaican posted his sixth 40-plus score, making 45 off 21, but a slowdown in between, partly because of Nitish Rana’s struggles against spin, played a hand in the final total. It was soon after this stifle that Capitals carefully used Kagiso Rabada, and unleashed him later against Russell, who had his revenge this time around. Yet, there was a lingering feeling that Capitals would’ve gladly taken a chase of 179. Then in the chase, Dhawan, who has been sluggish so far in the tournament, pottering around in the Powerplay to put immense pressure on the middle order, came out flying high and swatting short deliveries to the square boundaries. He was helped in no small measure by Rishabh Pant as they won by seven wickets.

Joe Denly fell the first ball to an Ishant Sharma peach, an inducker sneaking through the gap to flatten off stump. This had little effect on Gill, whose balance and poise left an indelible mark. He added 63 with vice-captain Robin Uthappa, during the course of which they played some classical shots. Uthappa, who slapped a Keemo Paul free-hit over long-on for the Capitals’ first six, made 28 before being caught magnificently by a leaping Pant off Rabada’s bouncer in the ninth over. Gill, however, kept up the pressure on the Capitals, reaching his first fifty of the season off 34 balls. He fell in the 16th over when he picked out short fine-leg off Paul.

Russell had more than seven overs to give the Knight Riders a great finish. He waited for stability before teeing off. He launched Rabada for three off his four sixes – two of which were swatted disdainfully to the square leg boundary off quick bouncers. But Chris Morris removed him with ten balls to spare, and with Carlos Brathwaite failing to make the most of it, the Knight Riders had to settle for a middling total. It may go unnoticed, but Prithvi Shaw’s two sixes off Lockie Ferguson in the second over had a multiplier effect on the chase. The first of those was smacked over the cover fence, while the second was more of a mishit off a top-edged pull. This start, however, got Dhawan going in the opening partnership that was terminated in the third over when Dinesh Karthik plucked an outstanding catch diving full length to his right.

Shreyas Iyer fell in the sixth over to put more pressure on Dhawan, who also had a reprieve when he was given not out on a review, despite snicko showing a small spike. However, with the on-field decision being not out and there being considerable doubt, he was reprieved. From there on, Dhawan was a man possessed. At the other end, Pant pasted Kuldeep Yadav for a one-handed six over long-off, and then matched Dhawan with his sweeps and pulls. Just when he looked set to finish it off, over-aggression got the better of him as he skied a one-handed slog to Nitish Rana on 46. Dhawan, however, wasn’t going to be denied.