Yusuf and Co. make sloppy Deccan Chargers pay
Kolkata Knight Riders 169 for 4 (Yusuf 47*, Gambhir 35, Tiwary 33) beat Deccan Chargers 149 for 6 (Dhawan 54, Bhatia 2-26)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Deccan Chargers dropped too many catches in the first half of the game to allow Kolkata Knight Riders to motor along to 169, and then dropped intensity alarmingly in the chase to succumb to their sixth defeat in nine games. Yusuf Pathan was the biggest beneficiary of Deccan's fielding largesse, surviving three clangers to pummel his way to his highest score of the season. His assault yielded 47 off 26 balls, and he helped Kolkata double their score in the last eight overs in Manoj Tiwary's company.
Deccan's pursuit followed a similar template to their misfiring chase against Chennai: Sunny Sohal kept opening up the off side and swiping in hope and Shikhar Dhawan once again receded into a shell after starting with promise. As he has done regularly this season, Iqbal Abdulla made things happen, removing Sohal and Kumar Sangakkara in his second over with clever changes of pace. Cameron White then crawled listlessly as the chase slumped to a mid-innings comatose. Rajat Bhatia put White out of his misery in the 11th over, and the game was over as a contest when Daniel Christian was wrongly adjudged lbw three balls later. Dhawan tried to reignite Deccan's hopes, but the innings had meandered too far off course by then.
It seemed unlikely that Deccan would be chasing 170 when they limited Kolkata to 84 for 3 by the 12th over. Gautam Gambhir exited at that pivotal juncture, leaving two new batsmen to do a repair job. Deccan, however, simply refused to seize the moment. Pragyan Ojha kept attacking with flight, and Yusuf tried to break free by lofting over the leg side. He was beaten in the air, though, and Amit Mishra ran back at long-off to get under the mis-hit. Drop. In the next over, Mishra had Yusuf miscuing in the same direction, towards Christian. Another drop. The next ball was whacked with the turn over the extra-cover boundary, and Kolkata never looked back.
Sangakkara missed a trick by holding Dale Steyn's second spell back until the 16th over. Yusuf had got his eye in by then, and the fact that Tiwary faced that entire over did not help Deccan's cause. Tiwary looted two off-side fours off Steyn, before Yusuf thumped Ishant Sharma for a massive six over long-on. By the time Dhawan grassed Yusuf again in the 19th over, Deccan were in damage-control mode, and doing a poor job at it. Tiwary launched Christian for six more, before Yusuf fore-handed Ishant and whipped Steyn for boundaries to ensure Kolkata finished with a bang.
The start of Kolkata's innings was a dawdle by comparison, in spite of Eoin Morgan's innate energy at the crease. He nearly ran himself out first ball, and charged out to the third and dumped Christian over long-on for a six. Thereafter Jacques Kallis settled into accumulation mode. He checked in with a typically pristine set of boundaries, charming Steyn through the covers, before redirecting short balls from Ishant on either side of the wicket for fours.
Gambhir took charge after Christian foxed Morgan with a slow offcutter. Gambhir lofted his first ball emphatically over the covers for four, before slashing Ojha through point. His joust with Christian was the most captivating mini-battle of the session, and included a heaved pull for six, a drop, a collision and a heated exchange of words. Kolkata progressed to 73 in the first ten overs, and Deccan were in need of some inspiration. The spinners produced just that, with Mishra foxing Kallis in the flight and Ojha hoodwinking Gambhir, but the fielding was about to let them down big-time. Yusuf exacted full toll, and ensured it was another forgettable night for the Hyderabad supporters who have witnessed only one home win in three-and-a-half seasons.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo