Andre Russell's 12-ball 41 headlined Kolkata Knight Riders' clinical performance as they recorded a crushing 71-run victory over Delhi Daredevils to return to winning ways in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in Kolkata on Monday.
The result meant Daredevils skipper Gautam Gambhir's 'homecoming' ended on a sour note. Russell's whirlwind 41, 36 of them coming in sixes, ensured KKR overcame a slow start to post a challenging 200 for nine after they were put in by Gambhir. It was a much-anticipated homecoming for Gambhir, who had led KKR to twin titles in 2012 and 2014, before the association ended this year.
Spearheaded by Russell in the company of Nitish Rana (59 off 35 balls), KKR put up a batting show that Delhi did not have any chance, suffering their third defeat from four matches. Glenn Maxwell (47 from 22 balls) and Rishabh Pant (43 from 26) kept Delhi in the hunt in a 62-run partnership from 32 balls. But the duo of Sunil Narine (3/18) and Kuldeep Yadav (3/32) triggered a collapse as Delhi folded for 129 in 14.2 overs.
KKR removed three DD batsmen including their last match hero Jason Roy and Gambhir inside the first three overs, derailing their chase, but Pant kept them in the game. India's Under-19 World Cup winning pacer Shivam Mavi got his maiden IPL wicket in Gambhir (8) in his first over as the former KKR skipper played on. From 24 for three, Pant and Maxwell led DD's recovery act in a fifty-plus run partnership in quick time before Yadav gave the breakthrough, removing the Delhi wicketkeeper batsmen.
Kuldeep conceded successive sixes against Maxwell but the chinaman bowler had the last laugh, dismissing the dangerous batsman for 47 and triggering the collapse with Narine taking three wickets in no time en route to his 100th IPL wicket. Earlier, it was a Russell show in the middle overs that lifted KKR to 200 after a slow start. That the Jamaican did not have a single boundary in his whirlwind innings summed up his dominance before being deceived by Boult.
The only blip in Russell's innings was when he was dropped on 7 by Jason Roy off the bowling of Mohammed Shami, but from thereon there was no stopping the Jamaican. Russell missed out on a fifty but Rana brought up his in 30 balls in a highly impressive knock, which contained five fours and four sixes. The former Mumbai Indians batsman caught the attention with his strokemaking and temperament as he held the KKR innings together before being done in by a slower one from Chris Morris.
After the departure of Russell and Rana, wrist spinner Rahul Tewatia (3/18) took three wickets in the last over, but the duo's 61-run partnership from 22 balls was enough to take them to 200. Boult gave Delhi Daredevils a terrific start, bowling a first over maiden to Chris Lynn and then accounting for Narine. But they still managed to score 50 runs in the powerplay, thanks to some clean hitting by Lynn (31) and Uthappa, who scored a brisk 35 from 19 balls. Lynn got into the groove, smashing Boult for back-to-back boundaries before Uthappa took Nadeem to the cleaners with two sixes and a four.