Despite a blazing start after being put into bat by the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy stadium, the Kolkata Knight Riders went down to the home team in a crunch encounter. While Sourav Ganguly’s men will have to own up a lot of responsibility for the shattering defeat, one must admit the Bangalore bowlers pitched in with a high-spirited performance.
In the 12 over of the game, Kolkata were cruising at 103 for 1 when Ganguly fell for 33. The remaining batsmen, barring Brendon McCullum, lost the plot completely as the side ended on a rather mediocre 160 for 9, way short of what they should have ideally achieved. In contrast, Bangalore were consistent throughout their batting stint. Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa achieved half-centuries in their typical style as Bangalore were home with nearly three overs to spare.
For Kolkata, it was the story of what might have been. Chris Gayle and Ganguly looked in supreme touch at the start. The former was in an exceptionally murderous mood, akin to the one against Punjab. Utilizing his strength to the best of his ability, he put Pravin Kumar’s medium pace to the sword. Six boundaries and a mighty six came off his bat as Kolkata raced to their 50 at the rate of 10 runs per over.
They couldn’t have asked for a better start. Even though Gayle fell to Jacques Kallis for 34 (off 15 balls), going for another smashing hit, Kolkata should still have done much better than where he ended up. Instead their batting graph only plunged from thereon.
The game began to change drastically following Ganguly’s dismissal. A mistimed pull saw him depart for a rather slow 33. This dismissal buoyed the bowling side. Anil Kumble kept things extremely tight, so much so that one of his overs only went for a single. At the other end, Dale Steyn steamed in and beat the struggling Kolkata batsmen for pace on numerous occasions.
And, as it has happened before in the tournament, R Vinay Kumar was the chief beneficiary. With runs not coming at the other end, the batsmen took him on and perished one after the other. It was Kumble though who got the main scalp, ending McCullum’s smart knock of 45.
Chasing eight runs an over, all Bangalore needed to do was bat sensibly. Kolkata did come hard at them though and made matters somewhat tough. Ashok Dinda carried on from his impressive effort in the last game. This time he accounted for the red cap holder Kallis, inducing an edge off his bat when on eight.
That said, the South African should have been in the hut for a nought, if not for a difficult catch to Ganguly going down. This wasn’t Kolkata’s best performance in the field. Later in the night, Ajit Agarkar dropped a sitter offered by S Sriram.
In the midst of all this, Dravid, pushed up to number three, kept the runs flowing. He played some crunchy drives on both side of the wicket and also stroked a couple of authoritative sixes en route to his half century. When he fell in the 14th over, Bangalore still needed 59. But, with Uthappa in the form that he is, it was a breeze.
He took Ajantha Mendis and Ishant Sharma to task, and ended up with whirlwind 52 not out. It was a superlative batting effort even though the fate of the game was sealed much earlier.
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