Kolkata Knight Riders started their title defence on a confident note as 'Mystery Spinner' Sunil Narine guided them to a comfortable six wickets victory over Delhi Daredevils in the opening encounter of the sixth edition of Indian Premier League in Kolkata on Wednesday.
A clinical bowling effort saw KKR restrict Daredevils to a modest 128 in 20 overs and then they chased down the runs with eight balls to spare on a Eden Gardens strip where batsmen found difficult to score freely.
Narine with brilliant figures of 4/13 kept Daredevils under tight leash while skipper Gautam Gambhir's useful 41 kept the defending champions' run-chase on track.
Jacques Kallis (23) and Manoj Tiwary (23) were involved in small but useful partnerships as KKR always looked firm favourites to pull off the chase despite losing a few wickets towards the end.
Ashish Nehra gave an early breakthrough removing Manvinder Bisla (4) but skipper Gautam Gambhir and elder statesman Kallis added 47 runs for the second wicket before the South African legend holed out in the deep as he failed to punish a rank long-hop from left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem.
Gambhir was off the blocks as he first slashed Irfan Pathan over point for a boundary and then lofted the bowler over long-on for a six.
Kallis's straight push and a 'Nataraja shot' off Nehra saw KKR score at a quick clip.
Once Kallis was gone, Gambhir-Tiwary duo added another 41 runs before a quicker one from Johan Botha caught the left-hander on the wrong-foot.
Gambhir's 42 came off 29 balls with five fours and a six.
Tiwary's run-a-ball 23 came to an end when Nadeem (2/22) got his second wicket.
Yusuf Pathan (18 no) and Eoin Morgan (14 no) completed the formalities with minimum fuss.
Sent in to bat on a sluggish wicket, the Delhi franchise found strokemaking difficult and most of its batsmen threw their wickets cheaply in their bid to force the pace. The sole exception was skipper Mahela Jayawardene (66, 52b, 8x4, 1x6), who played a smooth knock and got out only in the penultimate over as he went for an uppish shot off Brett Lee and was taken by Narine in the covers. Jayawardene, who has completed 1,500 runs in the IPL, reached his half-century off 46 balls.
Except Jayawardene and Warner (21), none of the Delhi willowers could reach double figures.
The match had a sensational start, with Australian pacer Brett Lee straightaway dislodging the young Unmukt Chand's off stump with a sharp away-cutter, much to joy of the packed crowd.
Jayawardene and David Warner, however, repaired the early damage by scoring at a brisk pace as the Daredevils scampered to 41/1 after five overs.
Warner looked in fine touch, picking up boundaries mainly on the leg side, with Jacques Kallis getting most of the stick.
However, Caribbean offie Sunil Narine, who shone with 24 wickets in the previous edition of the tourney, saw the back of Warner (21; 19b, 4x4) by inducing an edge that finished at first slip, as the visitors stood at 44/2 in the sixth over.
Wickets continued to tumble at regular intervals, as Manprit Juneja, Naman Ojha, Johan Botha and Irfan Pathan fell cheaply, even though Jayawardene anchored the innings at one end.
For the Knights, striving to defend their title, Narine (4-13), Bhatia (2-23) and Lee (2-40) were the main wicket takers.
Delhi Daredevils: 128 in 20 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 66, David Warner 21, Sunil Narine 4/13)
Kolkata Knight Riders: 129/4 in 18.4 overs (Gautam Gambhir 42, Manoj Tiwary 23, Jacques Kallis 23, S Nadeem 2/22).
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Gautam Gambhir (c), Manvinder Bisla, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Laxmipathy Balaji, Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Brett Lee and Sunil Narine.
Mahela Jayawardene (c), David Warner, Unmukt Chand, Manpreet Juneja, Johan Botha, Naman Ojha (wk), Andre Russell, Irfan Pathan, Ashish Nehra, Shahbaz Nadeem and Umesh Yadav.