It was a contest between the Indian Premier League (IPL) champions and the league’s strongest side. Delhi Daredevils crushed Kolkata Knight Riders by a huge margin of 52 runs to kick-off their Champions League T20 2012 campaign. It wasn’t the thriller one expected as one side played to their potential and the other failed to show up. While one side can look back and mark ticks in most boxes, the other has to lift its performance in the coming games to undo the damage to their net-rate.
Delhi are undoubtedly the most power-packed side in the IPL and have an embarrassment of riches. With overseas stars such as Mahela Jayawardene, Ross Taylor, Kevin Pietersen, Andre Russell, Morne Morkel and David Warner in the squad, it becomes difficult to pick four out of the lot. Jayawardene walks in by virtue of being captain and there isn’t a doubt over his spot. Delhi did well to pick Taylor and Pietersen as the other overseas batsmen as that allows them to strengthen the middle order. If Warner was to come in for either, then one gets the feeling Delhi would be top heavy – something that would affect the balance of the batting order.
Virender Sehwag was getting back into his groove and it was that one moment that got the better of him. Even during the ICC World T20 2012, he looked in decent touch, but lost his wicket playing a false stroke. What is frustrating is that he is getting those starts and not converting them. He may need a little luck or perhaps better application in the middle.
The one who stole the show during Delhi’s innings was Boy Wonder Unmukt Chand. For any Indian fan, his growth would be heartening and he is a good prospect for the future. The most impressive aspect of his innings was that he played good cricketing strokes and didn’t try to be too inventive. Normally, a youngster would get carried away by the big stage and the reputation of the format. But, here was a player sticking to his game-plan and essaying strokes from the coaching manual.
Mandeep Singh, another product from the under-19 system, had a few words of advice for young cricketers making a transition into T20 cricket when he spoke to CricketCountry. Mandeep had struggled a little during his first IPL, but was impressive during the 2012 edition.
Here is what he said about his experience, “When I played in the 2010 season, I think I was in a hurry to do things. I didn’t play to my strengths and I didn’t have a game plan as such. I took too much of the pressure as I thought it was the IPL T20, everybody is watching and I must hit. My advice would be that they must continue to play they do and back their strengths. For example, if get a short ball early on, I would hit it... You don’t have to panic. Some feel that 20 overs are less, but if you put your head down, you can score a 100.”
Keeping these words in perspective, one can say that Chand did exactly what Mandeep suggested. He looked in no hurry and waited for the opportunities. It is obvious that Chand’s strengths lie in playing orthodox cricket – through the off-side in particular.
Kolkata were keeping things under control and it was only that one over from Lakshmipathy Balaji when they let the advantage slip. Balaji wasn’t getting his line right and with his pace the margin for error is minimal. Although Kolkata did come back in the next few overs, the tempo of the game suddenly changed. The Delhi dressing room would have felt a lot better after that over as their bowlers would have anticipated a good total to defend.
With the exception of Balaji, the Kolkata bowling did well. Narine unveiled his bag of tricks and was difficult to read and Lee kept it tight. Kallis and Pradeep Sangwan too did a good job and Kolkata would take these positives to the next game. It would be interesting to see if they decide to leave out Balaji and bring in an Iqbal Abdullah for the next game. However, the make-up of the whole bowling line-up would also depend on Kallis’ availability.
Gautam Gambhir has to pick himself up as he was their key batsman during the IPL 2012. His dismissal showed that he isn’t in touch as an inform Gambhir would have confidently clipped the ball instead of lofting it to mid-on. After his dismissal, Kolkata fell apart – although Kallis’ injury worsened matters further. Once you lose your top three inside two overs, the chances of victory are slim. The pitch too didn’t help matters as it kept very low on the odd occasion.
However, Kolkata know that they were a shadow of the champion team they are and need to bring their A-game against the Auckland Aces on Monday.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_