Kallis, McCullum propel KKR to the top
The Kolkata Knight Riders replaced the Delhi Daredevils at the summit of the IPL log thanks to an emphatic six-wicket win against the hosts at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium in Delhi, set up by a brilliant half-century from Brendon McCullum and an excellent all-round bowling performance on Monday.
Delhi won the toss, elected to bat and managed 153 for nine. Kolkata reached the target at a canter with eight balls to spare as they scored 154 for four in 18.4 overs.
Kolkata now replace Delhi at the top of the table, with 17 points after 12 matches. Delhi have 16 points after 11 matches.
In pursuit of the target, McCullum smashed 56 off 44 balls, with seven fours, and featured in two significant partnerships that went a long way into securing the victory for the visitors.
At the start of the chase, he and Gautam Gambhir smashed 68 runs in the first seven overs.
Gambhir scored an attractive 36 off 21 balls with four fours and a six and neutralised Delhi’s ace with the ball, Morne Morkel.
Morkel was expensive, conceding 20 runs in his first two overs, and Gambhir and McCullum took full advantage.
When Varun Aaron dismissed Gambhir in his first over, Kallis joined McCullum, and they steadied the innings by scoring 60 runs off 49 deliveries for the second wicket.
Kallis was circumspect and rotated the strike well to give McCullum the opportunity to play the role of the aggressor.
They scored at a run a ball in the middle period without taking undue risks, and reached their 50 partnership off 41 balls.
Umesh Yadav bowled with aggressive pace, reaching an impressive 150.3 kilometres per hour once, and his double-strike in the 16th over accounted for both Kallis and McCullum.
He removed them in similar fashion as both attempted pull shots and were caught at the wicket, as Kolkata slipped to 128 for three after 15.2 overs.
Kallis scored 30 off 27 balls, with three fours. His excellent efforts as an all-rounder were a major factor in the win.
Yadav was the pick of the attack, taking 2-30 in four overs. Morkel captured 1-35 in four overs, but was not at his best.
Earlier, Delhi won the toss and elected to bat.
They started off well, reaching 40 without loss after 3.2 overs, but then Kallis changed the complexion of the game.
He rocked the top-order by capturing 2-20. First, he unsettled Virender Sehwag with a short delivery and then produced a fuller ball that trapped him in front for 23.
In his next over, Kallis removed David Warner with a fuller delivery that bounced and had him caught behind. Warner managed 21 off 19 deliveries.
At 50 for two after six overs, Delhi were still handily placed, but Ross Taylor looked out of touch and the rest of the batting order was unsettled by his inability to find either the middle of the bat or the boundary ropes.
The second half-century came off 49 balls.
Taylor and Mahela Jayawardene scored 46 off 42 deliveries for the third wicket before Jayawardene sacrificed his wicket in an attempt to steal the strike from Taylor, who struggled to read the variations of spinner Sunil Narine.
Narine again proved his worth by taking 2-23 in four overs – those four overs including two at the death. Rajat Bhatia conceded 0-26 in four overs.
Irfan Pathan slammed a quick-fire 36 off 22 balls with four fours and a six and his late onslaught enabled the hosts to add 25 runs in the final two overs.
The Kolkata bowling attack proved to be a cut above the Delhi bowlers.
McCullum and Gambhir raced to 60 runs in the first six overs and the game as a contest was pretty much over by then.
Where Delhi’s bowlers showed aggressive intent, they operated without the composure and shrewd awareness that characterised the efforts of Kallis and Narine.
DELHI DAREDEVILS: David Warner, Virender Sehwag (capt), Mahela Jayawardene, Ross Taylor, Irfan Pathan, Yogesh Nagar, Naman Ojha, Morne Morkel, Shabhaz Nadeem, Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS: Brendon McCullum (wk), Gautam Gambhir (capt), Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Laxmi Shukla, Yusuf Pathan, Debabrata Das, Rajat Bhatia, Sunil Narine, Brett Lee, Iqbal Abdulla