Shikhar Dhawan in full flow is a treat to watch. The southpaw played one of his best T20 knocks, an unbeaten 63-ball 97, as he guided Delhi Capitals to a comprehensive seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
DC restricted KKR to 178 for seven, after inserting the host, and achieved the target with seven balls to spare. It maintained a clean slate against the Dinesh Karthik-led side this season as it recorded its fourth win.
Dhawan’s brilliance fetched DC a strong start. Relying on his exceptional timing and placement, the left-hander, who hit 11 fours and two sixes, drove fluently on both sides apart from cutting and flicking the KKR bowlers with confidence.
Off to a flier
Dhawan set the tone by plundering two sixes, through upper cuts, and a four off Prasidh Krishna in the third over. He then hit Russell for three fours in the next to make his intentions clear.
Even as DC lost Prithvi Shaw and Shreyas Iyer to fine catches by Karthik, a fully-focused Dhawan never allowed KKR get any substantial gain.
Dhawan, who bettered his previous highest score of 95 not out, partnered Rishabh Pant (46 off 31), who played a comparatively quiet knock, for crucial 105 runs to make DC’s journey smooth.
Earlier, fielding a pair of new openers, as Chris Lynn was unwell and Sunil Narine made way for Carlos Brathwaite, KKR lost IPL debutant Joe Denly to the first ball of the match.
However, Shubman Gill, who had reached double digits only once in last five outings, rose to the challenge of opening the innings and gathered his first noticeable score (65 off 39 balls) of the season.
The 19-year-old masked his sense of responsibility with his usual cool demeanour and displayed a beautiful mix of aggressive shots and deft touches in front and behind the stumps to forge a 32-ball 63-run stand with Robin Uthappa (28 off 30). Uthappa improvised smartly to hit three superb boundaries off DC’s star bowler Kagiso Rabada’s opening over.
The loss of Uthappa and Nitish Rana did not perturb Gill. He rotated the strike and exhibited some fabulous strokes, including two sweet sixes, before being caught at short fine-leg off Keemo Paul.
Russell in pain
KKR’s 54,000 fans gave a rousing welcome to the dependable Andre Russell in the 13th over.
The West Indian stole some cheeky boundaries before unleashing the big hits despite grimacing because of a painful wrist and aching ribs (after being hit).
Russell chose Rabada for special treatment as he clobbered the South African for a six and a four in one over and two massive sixes on the leg side in another.
Russell’s departure disappointed the spectators and also affected KKR’s progress.