This day of that year: when Akhtar stormed Eden in his IPL debut
NEW DELHI: Shoaib Akhtar he played just three games in the inaugural season of the Indian Premier League but he ended up leaving a lasting impression on the tournament, thanks in large part to his four wicket run in the debut that helped Calcutta Knight Riders hammer Delhi Daredevils .
KKR captain Sourav Ganguly had chosen to hit first in the Eden Gardens in what was an indifferent first season for the league team that would win twice in recent years. However, the decision seemed like a mistake for most of the KKR entries as they struggled to get going. Starter and former Pakistani captain Salman Butt was the top scorer with 44, while David Hussey's 31 at the back of the innings helped the hosts post 133/6.
DD's batting lineup at the time featured likes from Gautam Gambhir , Captain Virender Sehwag, Villiers AB, Shikhar Dhawan and Tillakaratne Dilshan and were therefore expected to chase the total with ease.
However, Ganguly gave Akhtar the ball from the start and the Rawalpindi Express paid for his captain's faith. He pulled Sehwag out of the second inning ball and by the time he was fifth over DD innings, Akhtar had also fired Gambhir and De Villiers. He then caught Manoj Tiwary LBW just after firing De Villiers, but was unable to complete his hat-trick.
However, the damage was already done and although Dilshan led a brief fight, DD never recovered from Akhtar's initial destructive spell. Eventually they ran out of 110 and KKR won the match by 23 runs.
Akhtar played two more games for KKR and ended the season with five wickets. KKR missed a playoff spot, finishing sixth with six wins and seven losses. Ganguly was his top career scorer with 349 runs, while Shoaib's teammate in Pakistan, Umar Gul, was his biggest wicket wielder with 12 scalps.