Skipper Adam Gilchrist’s breezy 35-ball 54 went in vain as defending champions Deccan Chargers suffered an 11-run defeat at the hands of Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening match of the third edition of Indian Premier League here on Friday.
After Angelo Mathews (65 n.o.) and Owais Shah (58 n.o.) struck unbeaten half-centuries to rescue Knight Riders from a dismal start and steered them to a fighting 161 for four, the Sourav Ganguly-led side restricted Deccan to 150 for seven at the floodlit DY Patil Stadium.
Paceman Charl Langeveldt scalped two wickets for 26 runs, while the whole Kolkata bowling department, consisting of Ishant Sharma (1/31) and Laxmi Ratan Shukla (1/30), fired in unison to help the Kolkata team open their campaign on a winning note.
From 99 for two at the fall of Gilchrist, who played a typically flamboyant innings, the defending champions lost wickets steadily and with that the match too as the other batsmen were not up to the task.
Gilchrist, who struck three fours and as many sixes, powered Chargers in the company of VVS Laxman (22 off 14) to 61 for the first wicket and then to 99 before pulling a long hop from counterpart Brad Hodge (1/14) to deep square leg to depart.
Chargers then lost their way badly with internationals Herschelle Gibbs (19), Andrew Symonds (5) and Rohit Sharma (13) unequal to the task.
Knight Riders bowlers, looking clueless when Gilchrist was in rampaging form, bowled splendidly to keep check the run-rate and guide the team to a superb victory from a seemingly hopeless situation.
Gilchrist, opening the innings with Laxman, who cracked a six and two fours, gave the run-chase a solid start by putting on 61 runs in only 5.5 overs.
Later the Australian and Gibbs put on 38 runs to steer Chargers to 99.
Gilchrist was dropped twice by the butter-fingered Knight Riders fielders, escaping when on two and on 41. Gibbs too received a reprieve on seven before both departed within the space of seven balls.
Symonds failed, caught by Ganguly at mid on missing a pull off Ishant to leave Chargers needing 45 runs in 35 balls.
Chargers’ task looked difficult when Rohit departed in 17th over, followed by left-handed Anirudh Singh (14 off 14).
Needing 21 in the last two overs, the Chargers failed in their bid.
Earlier put in to bat, the Knight Riders went off to a dismal start by losing two wickets in the first four balls of the tournament.
Sri Lanka’s experienced bowler Chaminda Vaas (2/22) used the swing to devastating effect and sent back opener Manoj Tiwary (0) and Ganguly (0).
Tiwary was out to the first ball, clipping Vaas to Rohit, while Ganguly lasted only three balls before edging a superb out-swinger off the left-arm bowler to first slip fielder Anirudh.
Vaas grabbed two wickets in his opening over without conceding a run to give Chargers a splendid start to their campaign.
Cheteshwar Pujara (10) and Hodge (13), who watched departures of Tiwary and Ganguly from the non-striker’s end, repaired the damage to some extent by taking the score to 31 before being dismissed in the space of four balls.
Pujara fell to the left-arm pacer by driving a fuller length ball straight to mid on fielder Pragyan Ojha. He faced 16 balls and hit two fours.
Hodge was looking good when he fell to Jaskaran Singh as he was grabbed at backward point by Gibbs. Hodge struck a six and a four.
Hodge’s departure pushed KKR firmly to back-foot before Shah and Mathews, who was lucky to see his attempted hook sail behind wicketkeeper for a six, prevented further damage.
Mathews struck five fours and four sixes in his 46-ball innings, while Shah hit three fours and as many sixes during his 46-ball stay.