PUNE: Delhi, in imperious form all through IPL 5, learnt their lessons the hard way after crashing to a 18-run defeat to Team Kolkata in the IPL qualifier 1 on Tuesday.
No doubt influenced by their success against Punjab in Dharamshala, Delhi opted for a four-pronged pace attack. The move backfired badly on the Sahara stadium track, where a tinge of grass masked the slow character of the pitch.
The Kolkata batsmen, with captain Gautam Gambhir leading from the front as usual, exploited the express pace of the Delhi bowlers to the hilt, posting a challenging 162 for four.
Then, helped by their impressive array of slower bowlers, Kolkata restricted Delhi to 144 for eight.
For Delhi, the trio of Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav and Varun Aaron, all bowling in excess of 140 kmph, conceded 122 runs between them – three-fourth of the Kolkata total – in return for just one wicket.
Aaron’s last over of the innings cost 21 runs. The medium pace of Irfan Pathan (1-20) and the left-arm spin of Pawan Negi (1-18) were more effective.
Interestingly, in the league match against Pune at the same venue, Delhi had chosen two spinners, playing left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem instead of Aaron.
On Tuesday, Kolkata had three spinners in their lineup with Shakib Al Hasan sharing the new ball with Laxmipathy Balaji. Shakib (1-36), Sunil Narine (2-24) and Iqbal Abdullah (1-25) struck at regular intervals to puncture Delhi’s hopes.
It also helped that they won the toss. When the coin fell in his favour, Gambhir had no hesitation in batting frist. The skipper made a quickfire 32 off just 16 balls to help Kolkata get off the blocks smoothly. Yusuf Pathan provided the finishing touches with an unbeaten 40 from 21 balls.
Brendon McCullum (31), Jacques Kallis (30) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (24 n.o.) too played their roles to perfection. Delhi raced to 24 runs in two overs before being set back by the dismissals of Virender Sehwag (10) and David Warner (7).
Kolkata had a scare when Balaji limped off after bowling just two overs. But his services were not required.