Manish Pandey kept his cool to guide the Kolkata Knight Riders to a four-wicket win over the Delhi Daredevils at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Monday.
The visitors needed nine runs to win off the final over and Delhi captain Zaheer Khan threw the ball to the experienced Amit Mishra. The leg-spinner started the over in brilliant fashion, conceding no runs off the first two balls and also removing Chris Woakes.
With new batsman Sunil Narine taking a single, the equation came down to eight runs needed from the last three balls.
Pandey, who had scored a half-century, hit a six off the next delivery and then guided the ball calmly into the cover region to pick up two more next ball to complete a memorable victory for Gautam Gambhir’s side.
Earlier, Delhi won the toss and elected to bat first, and the hosts got off to a great start with openers Sanju Samson and Sam Billings adding 53 runs in the Powerplay overs.
Samson, especially, was impressive as he took the attack to the Kolkata bowlers from word go, slamming seven boundaries during his knock of 39.
The middle overs were less productive for the Daredevils, as Karun Nair struggled his way to a 27-ball 21. The Indian Test batsman hasn’t had the best of times in the IPL this season and his form continues to be an area of concern for Delhi.
Rishabh Pant would get the Delhi innings back on track, though, with a superb cameo which saw him score 38 from just 16 balls. The 19-year-old was especially harsh on Umesh Yadav, taking 26 runs from Yadav in the 17th over.
Playing his first competitive game in almost 10 month, Nathan Coulter-Nile took three wickets in his comeback match.
He was, in fact, unlucky to have not taken more as he saw two catches dropped off his bowling and then had one delivery hit the stumps only for the bails to hold firm.
Chasing a target of 169, the Knight Riders got off to the worst possible start – losing their top three inside three overs. The experiment to send Colin de Grandhomme to open the innings alongside Gambhir did not work, with the New Zealand all-rounder dismissed for just one.
Pandey and Yusuf Pathan came together at the crease with Kolkata in all sorts of trouble, but the duo played sensibly, rotating the strike well and timing the big shots to perfection as they put their side in the driver’s seat.
Their 110-run partnership took the game away from Delhi as both batsmen went on to notch up half-centuries.
There were some nervous moments at the end for the Kolkata-based franchise, but Pandey was on hand to steer them home as he scored an unbeaten 69, which included four fours and three sixes.
With this win the Knight Riders move back to the top of the table with eight points from five matches and a superior run-rate compared to the Mumbai Indians who are level on points. Delhi Daredevils, on the other hand, have two wins and two losses in the tournament so far.
Delhi Daredevils 168-7, 20 overs [Samson 39, Pant 38, Coulter-Nile 3-22] lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 169-6, 19.5 overs [Pandey 69*, Pathan 59, Zaheer 2-28] by four wickets.
Player of the Match – Manish Pandey