Defending champion KKR make a winning start over Delhi Daredevils in IPL opener

Kolkata, April 3: Kolkata Knight Riders started their title defence on a confident note as they comfortably defeated Delhi Daredevils by six wickets in the opening encounter of the sixth edition of IPL in Kolkata on Wednesday.

A clinical bowling effort saw KKR restrict Daredevils to a modest 128 in 20 overs and then they chased down the runs with eight balls to spare on a Eden Gardens strip where batsmen found difficult to score freely.

Mystery spinner Sunil Narine with brilliant figures of 4/13 kept Daredevils under tight leash while skipper Gautam Gambhir's useful 42 kept the defending champions' run-chase on track.

Jacques Kallis (23) and Manoj Tiwary (23) were involved small but useful partnerships as KKR always looked firm favourites to pull off the chase despite losing a few wickets towards the end.

Ashish Nehra gave an early breakthrough removing Manvinder Bisla (4) but skipper Gautam Gambhir and elder statesman Jacques Kallis added 47 runs for the second wicket before the South African legend was holed out in the deep as he failed to punish a rank long-hop from left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.

Gambhir was off the blocks as he first slashed Irfan Pathan over point for a boundary and then lofted the bowler over long-on for a six. Kallis's straight push and a 'Nataraja shot' off Nehra saw KKR score at a quick clip.

Once Kallis was gone, Gambhir-Tiwary duo added another 41 runs before a quicker one from Johan Botha caught the left-hander on the wrong-foot. Gambhir's 42 came off 29 balls with five fours and a six.

Tiwary's run-a-ball 23 came to an end when Nadeem (2/22) got his second wicket. Yusuf Pathan (18 no) and Eoin Morgan (14 no) completed the formalities with minimum fuss.

Earlier, KKR rode on Narine's 4/13 to bundle out a depleted Delhi Daredevils for a none-too-impressive 128 with none of the batsmen save skipper Mahela Jayawardene able to make a substancial contribution.

Jayawardene came to Daredevils' rescue as his sensible knock of 66 off 52 balls helped them reach a total of 125 plus. Jayawardene hit eight fours and a six in his innings.

Everything went as per KKR skipper Gambhir's plan after he won the toss and opted to field.

Brett Lee gave KKR the ideal start cleaning up Unmukt Chand (0) with the very first ball of the championship while Narine and Rajat Bhatia (2/23) with his military medium pacers, knocked the stuffing out of the opponents sharing six wickets between them.

The absence of big guns like Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen really hurt the Daredevils cause as none other than Jayawardene and David Warner (21) could post a double-digit scores.

Only once could the Daredevils dominate the KKR attack when Jayawardene hit Lee for consecutive six and four in the penultimate over but only to be dismissed in the next ball as the innings was all but over for the visitors.

Lee brought the packed stadium come alive with an away-going delivery which saw Unmukt play to a wrong line.

Skipper Jayawardene, who was out of action due to a finger injury, then steadied the ship with a 44-run second wicket stand with Warner.

The duo played some intelligent cricket taking four in every over as they kept the run-rate above eight-run mark.

Mystery spinner Narine, who was instrumental in KKR's last year triumph last season, came to haunt once again when he dismissed the dangerman Warner (21) as couldn't negotiate the turn and bounce giving Kallis the easiest of catch at first slip.

The dismissal was enough to bring the run-rate down as Mahela waged a lone battle with wickets falling at the other end at regular intervals.

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