Daredevils deliver the goods despite the rain


Mum Nature's sodden mood reduced Thursday's IPL clash to 12 overs per side before Morne Morkel and Irfan Pathan carried Delhi to a comfortable win over Kolkata.

Mum Nature's sodden mood reduced Thursday's Indian Premier League clash to 12 overs per side before Morne Morkel and Irfan Pathan carried Delhi to a comfortable eight-wicket win over Kolkata.

Holed up in their respective dressing rooms as more than two hours of inclement weather delayed the start of play, the teams eventually welcomed some belated action in front of a dedicated, packed Eden Gardens crowd.

Billed as Irfan Pathan versus brother Yusuf Pathan and Gautam Gambhir against Indian team-mate, fellow opener and long-time friend Virender Sehwag, the fixture saw only one half of the four-fold competition step to the fore – Irfan.

Opting to field first after winning the toss brought early reward for the Daredevils. Clinching four wickets in as many overs and then six in seven, the home attack, including two South Africans, a New Zealander and a handful of Indians acted as a cohesive unit from the outset.

Roelof van der Merwe landed the initial blow, getting rid of Brendon McCullum for just nine when the Black Caps star was trapped lbw dead in front of the stumps after fluffing an attempted pull.

Morne Morkel's trio of scalps – all bowled and including Proteas team-mate Jacques Kallis – then ripped the heart out of the Kolkata middle order.

At 55 for six, the Knight Riders were crying out for a burst of rearguard action. Laxmi Shukla and Debabrata dutifully obliged to the tune of 27 and 18 respectively, with some marginal contributions from the tail-enders forcing the score to 97 for nine.

Delhi's reply was proving relatively simple when Aaron Finch was gunning it, while Virender Sehwag played second fiddle. The Australian recruit orchestrated a brisk 30 from 27 balls, while his Indian counterpart delivered 20 from 13.

The openers fell in successive overs, however, restoring a tight contest that seemed destined for an entirely one-sided finish.

Irfan Pathan, expected to bat at seven but promoted to three in the order, soon swung the momentum back in favour of the Daredevils. Calmly taking in a string of sighters on the defence before tucking into a string of big hits, the talented all-rounder tonked his way to 42 not out from just 20 deliveries.

Admitting after the match that he was eager to target one bowler in particular, that man was clearly Marchant de Lange, who fetched two sixes in the penultimate over of the match. The South African fast bowler had a day to forget after dropping a tough chance in the deep earlier in the match.

Pathan, named Man of the Match for his swashbuckling effort, ultimately smeared a boundary off Rajat Bhatia to seal the deal with five balls to spare. In doing so, he showed that the Delhi franchise – desperately disappointing in last year's IPL campaign – are a far more determined outfit this time around.