By Debayan Mukherjee
Kolkata, April 13 (IANS) Shikhar Dhawan made sure that Sourav Ganguly had the last laugh in his own backyard with an unbeaten 97 as Delhi Capitals (DC) did a double on Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by scripting a seven-wicket victory in their reverse Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
DC had won the one-over eliminator against KKR in the first leg played in Delhi on March 30. With Friday’s win, DC moved to the fourth position in the points tally with 8 points from 7 matches, while KKR remained at the second spot with equal number of points but a superior net run-rate.
A ‘visitor’ at the Eden Gardens, DC advisor Ganguly watched Dhawan miss out on a maiden T20 hundred from the dugout as the southpaw (97*; 63 balls, 4×11, 6×2) roared back to form just three days ahead of India’s World Cup team selection.
Rishabh Pant too showed maturity at the other end with a 31-ball 46 (4×4, 6×2) as the capital side won with seven balls to spare.
Delhi posted 180/3 in 18.5 overs with Colin Ingram (14 not out) hitting a six off Piyush Chawla to seal the issue.
Pant and Dhawan combined for a 105-run third wicket stand off 69 balls after DC were 57/2 chasing 179 for victory.
KKR had posted a competitive 178/7 riding on Shubman Gill (65; 39 balls, 4×7, 6×2) and Andre Russell’s (45; 21 balls, 4×3, 6×4) knocks on a wicket which had a greenish tinge on it.
In reply, Delhi lost Prithvi Shaw (14) early with Dinesh Karthik snaffling a stunning catch flying to his right off Prasidh Krishna.
Skipper Shreyas Iyer (6) too did not last long with Karthik taking another catch behind the stumps off Russell in the 6th over.
From then on, it was a Dhawan and Pant show as the former returned to form with some crisp cover drives while his junior partner showed composure before holing out to Kuldeep Yadav at long on off Nitish Rana.
Earlier, Gill struck his maiden half-century of the season to set the platform before Russell hit Kagiso Rabada, who had dismissed him in the first leg with a toe-crushing yorker in the Super Over, for three sixes and a four.
The hosts scored 106 runs in the last 10 overs after being asked to bat by DC skipper Iyer. KKR were 72/2 at the halfway stage.
For DC, Rabada (2/42) was expensive but picked up two wickets while Chris Morris (2/38) and Keemo Paul (2/46) also chipped in.
Russell came in to bat when KKR were 93/3 after 12.4 overs, needing to up the ante. Soon compatriot Carlos Brathwaite (6) joined him at the crease, and the big-hitting pair combined for a 19-ball 39-run stand for the sixth wicket in which Brathwaite’s contribution was just 6.
Russell took sweet revenge on Rabada by taking him apart in the 18th over, smashing two maximums as the South Africa pace ace leaked 16 runs.
Morris got the better of Russell in the penultimate over with a full toss outside off which the Caribbean all-rounder hit straight down Rabada’s throat at third-man.
Paul was given the last over in which he got the wicket of Brathwaite, giving away 10 runs.
Opener Gill, who never got to bat up the order for KKR earlier, made the most of the opportunity by playing some delectable shots to give KKR a solid start.
Gill and Robin Uthappa (28) joined hands to stitch together a 63-run stand for the second wicket after debutant Joe Denly (0), Nitish Rana (11) and skipper Dinesh Karthik (2) failed with the bat.
Gill was dismissed giving a catch to Axar Patel at short fine-leg while trying to flick Paul through that area in the 15th over.
In the end, some lusty blows from Russell helped the team post a competitive total.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 178/7 in 20 overs (Shubman Gill 65, Andre Russell 45; Kagiso Rabada 2/42, Chris Morris 2/38, Keemo Paul (2/46) lost to Delhi Capitals: 180/3 (Shikhar Dhawan 97, Rishabh Pant 46) by seven wickets.
(Debayan Mukherjee can be contacted at [email protected])