Quiet Knight Rises

SP

Two deliveries was all it took. The first - the last ball of Shakib Al Hasan's first over - pitched on a good length outside David Warner's off stump, spun back sharply and bounced off his thigh pad into Brendon McCullum's gloves. Umpire Billy Doctrove gave it out, caught behind. Delhi Daredevils were one down for 24 in two overs.

The second the first ball of Lakshmipathy Balaji's first over was short and just outside off stump. Virender Sehwag tried to cut, and edged it to McCullum. Delhi were two down for 24, and a long way from their target of 163.

At that point, the Delhi dugout must have wondered, collectively, how they had let Kolkata Knight Riders score so many runs. They might have also wondered whether going in with three genuine quicks, on a Subrata Roy Sahara stadium wicket that was now notorious for its utter lack of pace, had been a particularly good move.

During Delhi's previous visit to Pune, their two best bowlers had been left-arm spinners Shahbaz Nadeem and Pawan Negi. Now, they left Nadeem out and played Varun Aaron, to complement their existing duo of express pacers, Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav - who, in their last game at this venue, had returned combined figures of 8-0-74-1. Aaron was as quick as these two and potentially even more erratic.

Sixteen overs into their innings, Kolkata were in a fairly dicey situation, at 106 for four. Kolkata had just lost Jacques Kallis, who had plodded his way to a 33-ball 30. They were missing Manoj Tiwary, out with a hamstring injury. Joining the out-of-form Yusuf Pathan at the crease, therefore, was Laxmi Ratan Shukla. The Bengal all-rounder had once been touted as the new Kapil Dev, but that was over a decade ago, and his international career had lasted a mere three ODIs. Some Kolkata fans may have preferred to see the old Kapil Dev, the 53-year-old Kapil Dev, walk in instead.

... contd.

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