IPL 2017: Manish Pandey helps KKR prevail in last-over thriller

A significant 110-run partnership between Yusuf Pathan and Manish Pandey took Kolkata Knight Riders on the brink of their third win of the IPL 2017 season, but it needed a special effort from the latter in a tense final over to clinch an absolute cliffhanger of a fixture at the Feroz Shah Kotla. With nine to defend, Amit Mishra nearly pulled off a heist, but it wasn’t to be as KKR rose to the top of the heap again with a four-wicket victory.

The two-time champions had to overcome an early wobble, that saw them reduced to 21 for 3, to successfully chase down 169. That wasn’t before former Daredevil Nathan Coulter-Nile, made an impactful debut for the Knight Riders with figures of 3 for 22 that helped restrict the home side to a chaseable total.

Difference between the two sides – Manish Pandey and the 110-run partnership

After Zaheer Khan defied conventional wisdom and decided to bat first, Sanju Samson continued his good touch with the bat. Unfortunately for the home side, however, they couldn’t quite stitch partnerships together. If Samson was classy in his 25-ball 39, then Rishabh Pant was at his devastating best during his 16-ball 38. Yet, what hurt DD was the fact that these two batsmen didn’t bat together at any point, while rest of the top-order flattered to deceive.

And that’s where KKR got one over their opposition. Manish Pandey and Yusuf Pathan turned KKR’s dwindling fortunes around admirably with a superb 110-run partnership, which came off 71 balls. The pair was unique – Yusuf a fire-brand cricketer and Pandey a modern batter capable of innings-building – and perhaps, exactly what KKR needed.

They teed off the moment they came together, not allowing Zaheer Khan’s early impact to have adverse repercussions on the way the chase was shaped. Most teams would end up behind the eight ball from 21 for 3, but not KKR. Not today, at least.

DD eventually broke the stand and KKR ended up making life tough after ploughing through the difficult phase. After a superb penultimate over from Chris Morris, Zaheer took a gamble and threw the ball to Amit Mishra for defending nine runs. The pressure of close-in fielders got to KKR in the first half of the over as Chris Woakes fell and only one run came off it.

With 8 to get off 3, Pandey showed exceptional nerves to pluck a full delivery, darted outside the off-stump, and deposit it over long on. The next ball was fired in too, and Pandey gently hit it in the direction of extra cover and scampered across for two runs to seal the victory. The No. 3 batsman finished unbeaten on 69 off 49 balls, and climbed up the batting charts for IPL 2017.

What worked for KKR?

With 21 for 3 on the board, you’d want to believe that DD should be able to press on and keep driving KKR’s asking rate up. But that just wasn’t the case. The early jolts hardly made a difference to Pathan and Pandey as they swiftly got off the blocks. Their ability to seize crucial junctures of the game ensured KKR were never out of the chase that would’ve felt a lot more tricky after the poor start.

After the powerplay overs, KKR had 49 for 3 as opposed to DD’s 53 for no wicket but that was the only important point of the game when the hosts were ahead. At the halfway stage, KKR were ahead by 5 runs. The margin went up by 25 runs by the 15th over and eventually the victory came with a ball to spare.

Turning point

Considering how close the chase eventually turned out to be, Zaheer Khan will rue his comeback over which perhaps eased the equation for the visitors. Zaheer bowled a magnificent first-spell (2 for 13 in 3 overs), but his return hurt his side badly. At the end of 13 overs, KKR had 110 for 3 on the board with two batsmen well set and deep into a match-turning partnership. Zaheer’s intention was well-placed – to come back and break the flourishing stand – but the execution was way off. A low full toss was dispatched over the deep midwicket fence by Yusuf Pathan for a six and a delivery down the leg side was neatly tucked away to the fine leg fence by Manish Pandey. Zaheer conceded 15 and brought the equation from 59 off 42 to 44 off 36 balls.

Zaheer’s rabbit out of the hat – Amit Mishra

It was already commendable that Zaheer decided to bat first – a rarity in the IPL – for the second game on the bounce, but the call to go with Mishra ahead of Mohammed Shami in the final over deserved further applause. It nearly proved to be a masterstroke as Mishra threatened to rob the game away, before Pandey intervened.

Where they go next

Delhi Daredevils travel all the way south to face Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 19, while Kolkata Knight Riders welcome Gujarat Lions at the Eden Gardens on April 21.

Brief Scores: Delhi Daredevils 168/7 in 20 overs (Sanju Samson 39, Rishabh Pant 38; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-22) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 169/6 in 19.5 overs (Manish Pandey 69*, Yusuf Pathan 59; Zaheer Khan 2-28) by 4 wickets


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