Kolkata: Shoaib Akhtar made an impressive debut as he spearheaded Kolkata Knight Riders' win over Delhi Daredevils by 23 runs in an important Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 match here Tuesday.
The controversial Pakistani fastbowler wrecked the Daredevils top order with his raw pace and picked up four for 11 from his three overs to wrap up their innings for 110 runs in 17.5 overs. Knight Riders, after winning the toss, were restricted to 133 for the loss of six wickets in 20 overs at the Eden Gardens.
With the win, Knight Riders consolidated their position in the IPL as they have five wins from nine matches and are at fourth spot. Daredevils are still in the fifth place.
Daredevils batsmen failed to complement the fine job of their bowlers and couldn't chase the small total. They found Akhtar's pace too hot to handle. The 32-year-old tearway looked as fit as a fiddle and removed Virender Sehwag (0), Gautam Gambhir (10), Abraham de Villiers (7) and Manoj Tewari (9) to put Delhi on the backfoot. He was also adjudged the Man of the Match.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla (3/6) and Ashoke Dinda (1/29), coupled with some fine fielding, then wrapped up the tail to make Akhtar's debut a memorable affair.
Daredevils' batsmen paid a huge price in their attempt to go after Akhtar, who bowled full throttle. Amit Mishra (31) and Tillekaratne Dilshan (25) tried to turn around things for the Delhi team but some brilliant efforts by Shukla called an end to their innings.
Shukla first effected a brilliant direct throw to get rid of Dilshan and then in the second ball of his first over he picked up Mishra. The allrounder just bowled five deliveries in the 18th over, which was also his first over, and scalped three wickets in four balls to wrap up the tail.
Earlier in the day, Knight Riders batsmen failed to break the shackles put by the Daredevils' pace battery and posted only 133 on a good batting pitch. Opener Salman Butt was the top scorer with 48 while David Hussey made 31.
The match was important as the winning team would have strengthened their claim for a semi-final berth. Knight Riders opted to bat first, backing their formidable bowling which was bolstered by Akhtar, who made his IPL debut after his five-year ban was suspended for one month. He came in place of Umar Gul.
For the Daredevils, Glenn McGrath was miserly with the new ball and Pradeep Sangwan also didn't offer too many loose balls as Kolkata struggled to inject momentum to their batting.