By Anurag Dey
Kolkata: Powered by skipper Gautam Gambhir’s stroke-filled 93, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) trounced Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by 47 runs in their Indian Premier league match here at the Eden Gardens Saturday.
Gambhir led from the front, hitting delectable shots, to pilot the Kolkata Knight Riders to an imposing 190/4. In reply, Bangalore could manage only 143/6, as Chris Gayle’s 58-ball 86 (7×4, 6×6) went in vain.
RCB got off to a bad start losing opener T. Dilshan (1) in the very first over. Virat Kohli 18 (19b 3×4) with three crisp shots to the fence looked promising and stitched a 32 run partnership with Gayle, before KKR’s Jacques Kallis followed up his good batting show by picking up wickets of two successive balls.
Kohli and AB de Villiers (0) were the South African’s victims, and Bangalore seemed to be tottering at 34/3.
In spite of Gayle being at the crease, the Challengers struggled to score runs. With the required run rate getting steeper with every delivery, the going got tougher for the RCB batsmen as Kolkata bowlers were miserly.
With 80 required off the last three overs, a crushing defeat for the Challengers looked a foregone conclusion. However, it was not to be as the Knights’ bowlers ensured a second victory over their rivals from Bangalore in as many matches.
KKR electing to bat first, got off to a solid start with openers Gambhir and New Zealander Brendon McCullum giving the team their best opening stand of the tournament.
Man of the match Gambhir enjoyed two reprieves early in his innings. RCB’s Harshal Patel at the third-man boundary could not latch on to a difficult chance in spite of a valiant attempt.
In the same over, the left hander, on 13, was again let off in the same over bowled by Zaheer Khan when Chris Gayle failed to catch an uppish cut at gully.
Gambhir (51b, 9×4, 5×6) and McCullum’s (43; 37b 8×4) 95 run stand was broken in the 11th over when Daniel Vettori got the better of the Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman who chopped the ball on to his stumps.
Much to the delight of a packed Eden crowd, Gambhir reached his half century of just 28 balls. The Indian pro, however, missed the magical three figures when he holed out to a Zaheer Khan delivery at long-off, K.P. Appanna taking the catch.
While the RCB bowlers struggled against the KKR onslaught, their fielders wilted under pressure and dropped catches, missed run out chances and gave away easy runs to the opposition.
KKR scored 46 runs in the last 4 overs to reach 190/4.