Kalkata,13 May:Brushing aside controversies, Shoaib Akhtar made a sensational IPL debut by polishing off the Delhi Daredevils top-order in a hurricane opening spell to propel Kolkata Knight Riders to a 23-run victory in Kolkata on Tuesday.
Battered by the Rawalpindi Express, who picked up four wickets in his first three overs, the visitors were skittled out for 110 of 17.5 overs, in reply to the Kolkata Knight Riders’ modest total of 133 for 6 at the Eden Gardens.
Akhtar, adjudged fit for the match only a few hours ago, matched up to the high expectations, claiming wickets in each of his first three overs, with his victims including the dreaded Delhi opening combination of skipper Virender Sehwag (0) and Gautam Gambhir (10).
Akhtar, playing at his favourite ground where he made his debut in 1999 during the Asian Test championship, finished with brilliant figures of 3-0-11-4 to walk away with the man of the match award.
Later, Laxmi Ratan shukla, brought on to bowl the 18th over, finished off the Delhi innings by taking the last three wickets to finish with an analysis of 0.5-0-6-3.
Akhtar sent back Sehwag in only the second ball of the innings, as the Prince of Najafgarh failed to negotiate a fast outswinger, managing only an outside edge to the wicket keeper.
Drumming up a fierce pace, Akhtar then accounted for Gambhir in his second over with a short-pitched ball, which the in-form batsman played straight to David Hussey at backward point, as Delhi were reduced to 17 for 2.
There was more Akhtar magic in the next over as he poured his heart out to deal twin blows to be on a hat-trick, as the Daredevils were tottering at 28 for 4.
First A B de Villiers (7) top edged to Tatenda Taibu at square leg, while the next delivery angled in sharply found Manoj Tiwary (9) plumb before the stumps.
Tilakratne Dilshan, however, averted the hat-trick.
Akhtar, who flew into the city last week after the Pakistan Cricket Board suspended for a month a five year ban slapped on him, seemed on song, and the effect was electric.
Kolkata Knight Riders owner Shah rukh Khan was seen rushing towards the boundary line exuberantly as the gallery erupted in wild jubilation.
Inspired by the Akhtar, Ashok Dinda then castled Shikhar Dhawan (7) as the visitors had half their side back into the pavilion with only 43 on the board in 7.3 overs.
Though the asking rate never seemed steep, Delhi failed to recover from the initial jolts and despite some brave efforts by lower order batsmen Amit Mishra (31) and Tilakratne Dilshan ( 25), in the end the lack of wickets proved their downfall.
Earlier, electing to bat, the hosts finished at 133 for 6, setting the Delhi side an asking rate of 6.7 before a crowd of 50 thousands.For the Knight riders, Salman Butt (48) was the principal scorer, with the in-form David Hussey (31 of 31 balls) getting moderate success in the slog overs.
Superb bowling performances from Glenn MacGrath (4-0-22-0), Yo Mahesh (2/34) and Maharoof (4-0-25-0) ensured the Delhi batsmen got an easily attainable asking rate.
The Knight Riders could never get the momentum going, and only 10 fours came in their innings.Butt and Aakash Chopra (13) made a sedate start, before the latter played a casual shot in his bid to loft new ball bowler Pradeep Sangwan and offered a simple catch to Ferveez Maharoof at mid off.
Sourav Ganguly (7) raised hopes of another magical knock as he hit Yo Mahesh for a six by making full use of a free hit, but the end came in the same over when he played early to a good length stuff and the ball rattled his leg stump off the thighs.
The home side were 69/2 at the half-way stage, but the run rate slowed down between the 11th and the 15th over, when only 26 runs were added to the total.
Mahesh, meanwhile, tasted another success in the 14th over, with Butt top edging Mahesh to third-man to bring the curtains down on a 44-ball knock, which included seven fours.
Tatenda Taibu (7) continued his dismal show, while Laxmi Ratan Shukla (10) was also dismissed cheaply.Hussey tried to slog it out, picking up two over boundaries before holing out to Manoj Tiwary at long on.
Courtsey : DD NEWS