Centurion: Twenty20 is the worst playground of reputations as far as the game of cricket is concerned. Heroes of yesterday often get a sidekick-like treatment on the match day.
For the Kolkata Knight Riders, the IPL-V champions, their CLT20 opener against the Delhi DareDevils, on Saturday, saw the burial of their hard-earned reputation as they were thrashed by 52 runs.
Chasing the 161-run target, Gautam Gambhir's men got it wrong from the very beginning when Man of the Match Irfan Pathan removed the captain (who scored a golden duck) and Manvinder Bisla in the first over of the innings.
The DareDevils' pace attack, led by Morne Morkel and complemented by Pathan and Umesh Yadav, made optimum use of the lively Centurion track.
Brendon McCullum fell in the first delivery of the second over to make the Knights' score an ugly-looking 3/3.
The only person who could have helped in such a situation was Jacques Kallis. But in the fourth ball of the second over, a rising Morkel delivery struck Kallis' hand and the injury forced him to leave the field. With him, whatever hopes that the Knights had, departed.
Manoj Tiwary's fighting 33 and Rajat Bhatia's patient 22 were never going to be enough. In the end, the IPL champions could manage just 108 for seven in their 20 overs.
Earlier, the DareDevils' batsmen didn't do too well either.
A look at the DareDevils' batting roster gives one a feeling as if it's the World XI line-up. Mahela Jayawardene, Virender Sehwag, Kevin Pietersen and Ross Taylor…
However, there was a misfit among these stalwarts of the game ' Unmukt Chand. The youngster's Liliput-esque presence in such a line-up is bound to be overlooked as a comma often is in a long sentence.
But Unmukt ensured that he punctuated his shots to perfection, thereby announcing to the world that he is ready to rub shoulders with the big brothers of the game.
At one stage, the DareDevils were 64 for three. The Delhi side needed one or two daredevils. In Chand (40 off 27 balls) and Taylor (36 off 24 balls), they found that.
Be it the six of Kallis over deep midwicket or the pulls off Balaji, Unmukt, India's under-19 World Cup-winning captain, was confidence personified.
For the Knights, Sunil Narine was the hero and Balaji the culprit.
Narine's had figures of three for 21 off four overs while Balaji gave away 61 off his four overs. Balaji did take two wickets, but that would not hide the fact that his waywardness cost the team a mammoth 30 runs in the 17th over. Two sixes, three boundaries, three wides and a no-ball… It was criminal.