NEW DELHI: Gautam Gambhir might have been returning to his old stomping ground -- the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi -- where it all began for the Kolkata Knight Riders skipper on Monday. But even the Delhi lad himself was caught unawares by a Kotla pitch that had a slightly more greenish top on it than the usual serving.
"Haven't seen a wicket like this at the Kotla and we don't know what's going to be a good total," Gambhir did not mask his surprise while sending home side Delhi Daredevils to bat first. The 33-year-old might also have had in his back of the mind that in seven out of their previous eight matches here, all of which they have lost, Daredevils had batted first.
Two minutes of silence was observed among the players as well as in the stands to pay respect to Ankit Keshri, former captain of the Bengal under-19 team, who died on Monday morning in Kolkata after an on-field collision.
But when the action resumed, it was Morne Morkel, formerly of this parish who hurt his old teammates, sending home Daredevils opener Mayank Agarwal for a single in his first over. The South African pacer who picked 25 wickets in IPL 2012 then playing for Delhi, managed a top edge off Agarwal that was swooped up at long leg by Umesh Yadav.
Daredevils captain Jean-Paul Duminy who came in at number three did not last long either. Sunil Narine, introduced in place of Umesh at the Old Club House end, pitched one outside leg stump and the Duminy, who went for the sweep, completely missed the ball that hit his pad and ricocheted off his glove on to the leg stump.
Meanwhile, Delhi's other opener, the young and promising Shreyas Iyer looked to be in fine nick hitting four boundaries including a maximum helping his side's scoreboard ticking despite the loss of two early wickets.
However, it was another bowling change that paid off for Gambhir and KKR in the ninth over as Piyush Chawla who castled Iyer at 31 runs after the batsman failed to read the ball's turn, ot the lack of it.
On 69 for three and with Manoj Tiwary joined by crowd favourite Yuvraj Singh, another of Delhi's inform batsman, at half time of their innings, it would be interesting to see whether it will be DD's momentum or KKR's consistency that will come out on top at the end of this encounter.