A healthy sprinkling of Caribbean dash dominated proceedings at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Saturday . At one end was Andre Russell of the Kolkata Knight Riders, the flavour of this IPL season. At the other was Delhi Daredevils’ Carlos Brathwaite, the special seasoning on West Indies’ recent World T20 feast. Both thorough entertainers with a feel for all-round prowess.
It was Russell who stole the early march by bagging the wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Quinton de Kock in the first over of the game after KKR had put DD in. Eventually, though, it was Brathwaite (3-47 and 34 runs off 11 balls with the bat) who broke the back of the Kolkata middle order after helping his team finish strongly.
Chasing 187, Kolkata, hampered by a rare failure from Gautam Gambhir at the top and left ruing the absence of a strong overseas batting card in the middle, managed only 159, their reply lasting 18.3 overs. Robin Uthappa (72 off 52) held one end firm for KKR and the story might have turned out differently if Amit Mishra hadn’t held on to a spectacular return catch to get rid of the dangerous-looking Russell. The catch contributed to ensuring the first loss for Kolkata this season while chasing a target.
Brathwaite’s panache, Mishra’s vital contribution and another creditable performance from skipper Zaheer Khan with the new ball, meanwhile, ensured a temporary second spot in the charts for the resurrected Devils. After eight seasons and countless changes of personnel, Delhi finally seem closer to acquiring the one quality which has consistently eluded them: Character.
As Brathwaite admitted later on, the new backroom staff and a generally “happy feeling” in a dressing room overflowing with music and positivity has helped new-look Delhi shed some of the past baggage. The Devils ticked most boxes in the 27-run win, not the least of which included risking the lack of a sixth bowler and putting the onus on the top bowling guns to deliver, apart from strengthening the pace department and finally discarding the under-performing but prohibitively expensive Pawan Negi.
Also impressively , the team overcame another woeful start as a solid foundation was laid by Karun Nair (68 off 50 balls) and debutant Sam Billings (54 off 34) to enable the strong finish, in which 80 runs came off the last six overs.
As it turned out, Narine didn’t complete his full quota and between them, Hogg and Chawla conceded 63 runs in six overs. Food for thought for the Kolkata skipper going forward.