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Chakravarthy, Salt propel KKR to seven-wicket win over Delhi Capitals

On a two-paced pitch where most batters struggled, Salt capitalised on a reprieve on 15 to smash a 33-ball 68.

Screenshot 2024 04 30 093428KOLKATA: Spinner Varun Chakravarthy worked his magic to claim three important wickets before Phil Salt’s scintillating half-century as Kolkata Knight Riders secured a convincing seven-wicket win over Delhi Capitals in the IPL here on Monday.

Chakravarthy (3/16) shone in the middle overs following Vaibhav Arora’s fine start (2/29) that limited Delhi to a modest 153/9 after Rishabh Pant opted to bat.

On a two-paced pitch where most batters struggled, Salt capitalised on a reprieve on 15 to smash a 33-ball 68.

He hammered five sixes and seven fours in a 79-run opening wicket partnership with Sunil Narine that came off just 38 balls.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer (33 not out; 23b) and Venkatesh Iyer (26 not out; 23b) then completed the chase as KKR cantered home in 16.3 overs to improve their net run-rate to 1.096.

KKR now have the best run-rate in the 10-team standings as they consolidated their position at second place with 12 points from nine matches.

DC’s Lizard Williams will surely want to forget this outing. He bore the brunt of a wayward opening over that yielded 23 runs to set the tone for KKR’s easy chase.

There was worse in store for Williams in the next over as he spilled a sitter from Salt.

There was no stopping the world No. 2 T20I batter from thereon as he brought up a 26-ball fifty, his fourth from nine matches.

With Salt firing on all cylinders, KKR raced to 79 for no loss in six overs.

Left-arm spinner Axar Patel was introduced in the seventh over and he made an immediate impact, dismissing Narine (15) while in his next over, he cleaned up Salt and one wondered why Delhi brought into play their spin attack only after the power play.

Axar returned with 2/25, but Kuldeep Yadav went wicket-less while giving away 34 runs from his four overs.

Earlier, there were no fireworks for a change at this venue which has witnessed record runs being scored and innumerable sixes being hit so far in the season.

The returning Arora (2/29) gave KKR a fine start in the power play after Delhi opted to bat on a tacky wicket.

Introduced in the ninth over, Chakravarthy then spun a web as he bowled his four overs on the trot and snared the key wickets of Rishabh Pant (27; 20b), Tristan Stubbs (4; 7b) and impact sub Kumar Kushagra (1) during a match-turning spell of 3/16.

The KKR bowlers dominated the power play, reducing Delhi to 67/3 on a pitch that seemed to be two-paced as batters struggled to get their timing right.

Making a return after missing the last two matches, seamer Arora seized the early initiative, striking twice for KKR inside four overs.

First, Arora halted Prithvi Shaw’s brisk start and dismissed him for 13. Then, he bowled a peach of a delivery that angled in before darting away after pitching to clean up Hope (6).

The Eden Gardens also missed a Jake Fraser-McGurk special with Starc taking the latest IPL sensation’s wicket in the third over.

After smashing Starc for a six and four in successive deliveries, Fraser-McGurk wanted to clear the deep square leg, but mistimed and struck it straight to Venkatesh Iyer.

From Delhi’s perspective, their run-rate was way above 11 and they needed someone to consolidate but KKR kept taking wickets.

Abhishek Porel looked the most at ease, and took on Harshit Rana for successive 4-6-4 with exquisite timing and aggression.

But Rana had the last laugh, beating the Bengal wicketkeeper with pace.

Rishabh Pant got a reprieve on 18, when Rana dropped a sitter, but the Delhi skipper looked scratchy and was dismissed by Chakravarthy for a third time in the IPL.

Harshit Rana also finished with two wickets, but Mitchell Starc continued to be their weak link in the bowling as the star Aussie pacer conceded 43 in his three overs at 14.30 runs per over.

Veteran Sunil Narine went about his task quietly to end with 1/24 while accounting for Axar (15; 21b), as none of the DC batter could consolidate after a brisk start.

On a day their batters failed to capitalise, Kuldeep became Delhi’s top-scorer and his 26-ball 35 not out against his former franchise was the reason they crossed the 150.

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