Gambhir drives Kolkata Knight Riders to big win over Royal Challengers Bangalore
By IPL desk
Mumbai 28 April 2012
Gautam Gambhir made the most of the two reprieves he got early in his innings to set up a huge victory for the Kolkata Knight Riders against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens. The KKR skipper scored a 51-ball 93 to help his side to a 47-run win. Thanks to this result, the Kolkata franchise is now just one point shy of league leaders Delhi Daredevils in the IPL 2012 table.
Opting to bat on a slow track, Gambhir got two lives in Zaheer Khan’s second over, and those two chances were enough for him to take charge of the situation. The India opener managed to score at least one boundary in every over to keep the team’s run-rate near the nine runs per over mark.
Harshal Patel failed to hold on to a difficult attempt on the third man boundary off the very first ball of Zaheer’s over, and then, Chris Gayle made the same mistake in the gully two balls later.
Gambhir’s onslaught allowed the under-pressure Brendon McCullum (43) to settle down before coming to the party once his New Zealand compatriot Daniel Vettori came on to bowl. The wicketkeeper-batsman hit Vettori for two successive boundaries in consecutive overs. But the RCB skipper, who returned to the squad after an injury scare, had the last laugh when he shattered McCullum’s stumps to end KKR’s best opening stand of the season.
The wicket did nothing to slow down Gambhir, who lofted K Appanna over the midwicket fence in the very next over. The KKR opener looked a bit hassled after getting into an argument with RCB wicketkeeper AB de Villiers. But a timeout helped him regroup and he welcomed Zaheer to the bowling crease with a boundary and a six in his second spell.
Gambhir, who hit nine fours and five sixes, employed the short arm pull at regular intervals and gathered valuable runs against the medium pacers, before Zaheer had him holed out at mid-on. He was seven runs short of a well-deserved century.
South African all rounder Jacques Kallis (41) then took the responsibility to take KKR over the 190-run mark. Two of Kallis’s sixes ended up in the stands, and had it not been for a brilliant catch by Harshal Patel, who ran back from short fine-leg, 200 looked like a distinct possibility. None of the RCB bowlers looked impressive as even Zaheer went for 12 runs-per-over.
In reply, RCB lost Tillakratne Dilshan in the very first over with just two runs on the board. The Sri Lankan opener failed to clear Rajat Bhatia at mid-off. Yusuf Pathan, who sent Dilshan back to the hut, would have had the scalp of Chris Gayle (86) in his second over. Four KKR fielders messed up a miscued hit as they converged to claim the catch, and Sunil Narine running in from long-off only managed to get a hand to it.
Gayle and Virat Kohli (18) lived dangerously for a while, until the latter fell when he missed the line of a Kallis delivery and was adjudged lbw. AB de Villiers went for an extravagant pull off the very next ball and only managed to sky it to the mid-on fielder, Laxmi Ratan Shukla. Saurabh Tiwary, who denied the South African a hat-trick, could not do much. Pathan (one for 19 in four overs) and Kallis kept the scoring rate under six till the halfway stage.
After Bhatia foxed Tiwary, it was left to Gayle stage a Houdini-style escape act. The West Indian, who is known for his explosive hitting, slammed three sixes and a boundary in the penultimate over off Bhatia. But his onslaught was too late to make an impact on the outcome of the match. Scorecard:
Man-of-the-Match: Gautam Gambhir for his match-winning innings of 93 (9x4; 5x6) off 51 balls