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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
Kings XI Punjab won their all-important away game against the Chennai Super Kings by seven runs. After setting the home side a target of 157, thanks to Mandeep Singh’s 50-ball 56, KXIP restricted CSK to 149 for eight. Azhar Mahmood’s bowling performance was instrumetal in preventing the visitors from pulling off a win.
Faf du Plessis and S Badrinath got CSK’s run-chase off to a flying start. However, Azhar Mahmood took a great catch off his own bowling to dismiss the dangerous du Plessis (29 off 20 balls). Mahmood followed this up with the wicket of Badrinath (25 off 17 balls) in his next over.
This slowed down the scoring-rate and added pressure on the new batsmen – Suresh Raina and Wriddhiman Saha. Raina eventually succumbed to the pressure and was stumped by Nitin Siani off Piyush Chawla after scoring 15 (17 balls). Two overs later, KXIP skipper David Hussey brought himself into the attack and managed to castle Saha (six off 14 balls). Even MS Dhoni couldn’t do much damage and was run-out by Saini after scoring just one run.
After being dropped once, Ravindra Jadeja (17 off 11 balls) was finally caught by Hussey off the bowling of Chawla, leaving CSK tottering at 99 for six in the 15th over. This brought the explosive pair of Dwayne Bravo and Albie Morkel together in the middle. Although Bravo (30 off 21 balls) stepped on the pedal towards the end, he holed out at long-on off Praveen Kumar.
With CSK needing 17 off six balls, Mahmood ensured there were no last-minute heroics from the home side. After getting Morkel’s wicket off the first delivery of the last over, he effectively ended all of CKS’s hopes by restricting them to 148 for eight in 20 overs. The all-rounder recorded amazing bowling figures of 4-0-25-3.
Earlier, KXIP won the toss and chose to bat first on a good batting wicket. With Adam Gilchrist still missing in action, the visitors opened with Mandeep Singh and Shaun Marsh. The duo gave KXIP a good start and added 68 for the first wicket. After playing second fiddle to Mandeep for the first few overs, Marsh finally joined the party in the eighth over when he hit Jakati for one six and two fours. However, he soon perished for 32 as he was found short of his crease at the non-striker’s end when a straight drive from Mandeep was deflected onto the stumps by R Ashwin.
After that, Mahmood came in to bat, but he was trapped lbw by Dwayne Bravo after a brisk 18 off 12 balls. Meanwhile, Mandeep continued to rally on and brought up his maiden IPL half-century. The right-hander strung together a handy 30-run partnership with David Miller (19 off 15 balls), who was caught by MS Dhoni off Morkel. Mandeep (56 off 49 balls) soon followed him to the hut after he lofted a Bravo delivery that landed straight into Suresh Raina’s reliable hands.
Skipper David Hussey (7) stepped up to the plate next, but he holed out to Shadab Jakati when he tried to smash Morkel on the off side. KXIP suffered another blow in that over as Piyush Chawla (0) was caught off a slower delivery by Bravo. Bipul Sharma (7) was the next to depart, run out by Dhoni while trying to sneak in a bye. Nuwan Kulasekara bowled a great last over in which he conceded seven runs and got the wicket of Nitin Saini (6).
As a result of this mini-collapse, the visitors ended up scoring just 43 runs off their last six overs. They scored 156 for eight in their 20 overs. For CSK, Morkel did bulk of the damage with the ball and ended up with figures of 4-0-29-3. Even Bravo (4-0-28-2) registered impressive bowling figures.