Kolkata Knight Riders won home match against Punjab and away match against Delhi. It was great display of cricket.
On 13th April, 2017, Kolkata Knight Riders met Kings Eleven Punjab at Eden Gardens. Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to field first. As Lynx was injured Kolkata took Piyush Chawla and Australian medium pacer. Kuldeep Yadav was rested for the day.
Punjab opened well. Vohra and Amla opened with authority. Vohra is a good stroke player.
So they scored runs against Trent Boult and Chris Woakes. But they struggled against spin. Piyush Chawla got Vohra bowled with a googly in his first over. Sunil Narine was unplayable.
Punjab lost wickets in the middle overs. After that Glenn Maxwell came and hit Piyush Chawla for 2 sixes and a boundary. But Maxwell was dismissed caught behind in the ball of Umesh Yadav. After that Wriddhiman Saha played a good innings of more than 25 runs in less balls with a six and 2 boundaries. He got dismissed wanting to play a lofted shot on a slower delivery of Umesh Yadav. That led to collapse of Punjab. Miller also got caught out in the same over of Umesh Yadav. At the end Punjab scored 168 runs in 20 overs. Umesh Yadav played the first match of the IPL as he was rested for the first 2 matches. He got 4 wickets.
In reply Gautam Gambhir opened with Sunil Narine. In every match Gautam Gambhir came up with a surprise. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not work. Sunil Narine came out as Lynx got injured and could not play for 4 to 5 matches. Sunil Narine played chip shots and slogged at the ball in the initial overs. He hit 3 sixes in his 37 runs and 4 boundaries and got a 60 run partnership with Gautam Gambhir. Gambhir steadies the ship on the other hand.
Robin Uthappa and Yusuf Pathan got out cheaply after trying big shots. But thereafter Manish Pandey gave good partnership with Gautam Gambhir. At the end Kolkata Knight Riders won the match with many balls to spare. Gambhir remained unbeaten with 71 runs. It has been seen in the past that the day Gautam Gambhir got runs Kolkata Knight Riders always won. It was because after Virat Kohli he was the other captain who could anchor the innings and allow the other players to play big shots. In respect of Punjab the weakness of Hashim Amla against spin was exposed. They relied a lot on Maxwell and will depend on him to fire to take Punjab to semi-finals.
On 17th April, 2017, Delhi Daredevils met Kolkata Knight Riders in the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium in New Delhi. It was a home match for Delhi and away match for Kolkata. Delhi batted first.
Majority of batsmen of Delhi did well. Sanju Samson opened well and hit boundaries against Chris Woakes and Umesh Yadav. In the middle openers it was Rishabh Pant show. All the wicket –keepers in the IPL had played well. Rishabh Pant scored 29 runs of 13 balls with sixes and fours. Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a long time for India in tests and one-dayers. If he was not there then many other wicket –keepers would have got chance for India like Parthiv Patel, Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Kartik, Robin Uthappa. All have great batting skills.
At the end Delhi lost a number of wickets excepting Morris who hit a six and boundary. Delhi ended up with a score of 168 runs in 20 overs. With the great bowling line up it was not impossible for Delhi to defend the total against Kolkata.
Kolkata started very badly. Grandhomme got out cheaply in the slower delivery of Zahir Khan. After that Robin Uthappa also got out cheaply.
Few overs later Gautam Gambhir also got out after scoring 14 runs. He played a lofted shot and got caught in the deep point region. Kolkata was tottering at 37 for 3 wickets after 6 overs. At that time they required a decent partnership. Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey provided a partnership after playing sensibly in the middle overs.
Morris, Braithwaite bowled well in the slog overs. Pathan got out but Manish Pandey stayed till the end to see Kolkata Knight Riders through. So Kolkata won the match in the last over. It was a close match and anyone could have won it. With this win Kolkata came to second spot, after Mumbai in the points table.
After half of the IPL being played few things are observed. Due to severe heat in India, with temperature soaring to 44 degrees in Hyderabad, New Delhi, Rajkot, etc., fast bowlers are required to be rested. Those teams which are rotating the bowlers are doing well. Presently Bhubaneswar Kumar is wearing the purple cap with most wickets. David Warner is wearing the orange cap with most runs.
The other observation is that leg spinners are creating more damage than other bowlers in the tournament. Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Amit Mishra and leg spinner of Afghanistan had captured wickets and changed the complexion of the game in many matches. Sunil Narine had remained the best off-spinner of the IPL till now. Harbhajan Singh was the other off-spinner who impressed in the initial matches. West Indian spinner Samuel Badree also did well in the initial matches.
Many teams struggled due to wrong batting order. Mumbai required to launch Rohit Sharma at opening slot rather than at No 4. Mumbai required Buttler to play later. It has been a different case that Krunal Pandya and Pollard had played consistently and won matches for Mumbai, which Mumbai would have lost. Virat Kohli required to open with Gayle. Instead Gayle was unnecessarily rested for Bengaluru, and that is causing less runs put in the scoreboard. Punjab requires to play Morgan at No 3 and Maxwell at No 4 position. Gujarat requires Finch to play at No 3 and Suresh Raina at No 4. They are doing the opposite and losing matches. From the first round it seems that Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils are strong favourites to enter the semi-finals.
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