KOLKATA – It was the Sunil Narine show as Kolkata Knight Riders kicked off the defence of their Indian Premier League crown with a six-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils at the Eden Gardens Ground in Kolkata today.
Australian fast bowler Brett Lee got the sixth edition of the Twenty20 tournament off to a spectacular start by clean bowling Unmukt Chand first ball, but it was off-spinner Narine who was the star †for Kolkata with the ball.
The West Indian mystery spinner claimed impressive figures of 4 for 13 from his four overs, including a wicket with his fifth ball when the dangerous David Warner (21) was caught at slip by Jacques Kallis to a sharply turning off-break.
Thereafter Daredevils simply struggled and did not put enough runs on the board, despite skipper Mahela Jayawardene’s knock of 66 that included eight fours and a solitary six.
The experienced Sri Lankan got little support from the rest of his side; they were bowled out for 128 off the final ball of the 20th over.
Warner, the Australian opener, was the only other Delhi batsman after Jayawardene to make it into double figures, hitting four boundaries before offering a low chance that Kallis comfortably held.
Narine then returned at the end of the innings to stop Delhi in their tracks, international team-mate Andre Russell amongst his victims when he chipped back a simple return catch off a doosra he did not read.
Knight Riders’ skipper Gautam Gambhir then led the way with 42 as the reigning champions surpassed their required target of 129 with eight balls to spare.
Kallis and Manoj Tiwary made 23 apiece for Kolkata before both falling to spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (2-22), leaving the score at 99-4.
It was left to England international Eoin Morgan (14 not out) and Yusuf Pathan, who was unbeaten on 18, including hitting a six straight down the ground, to see the Knight Riders over the line.
But it was the mesmerising spin of Narine that had long won the match for the hosts.
Tomorrow Ravi Rampaul, Chris Barnwell and Chris Gayle’s Bangalore Challengers take on Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith’s Mumbai Indians at 10:30 a.m. Barbados time.