| Gautam Gambhir, on way to his 64, on Tuesday |
Bangalore: The man who wasn’t even in the first XI of the first two matches, gave the Kolkata Knight Riders their first victory of the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Laxmipathy Balaji had such an effect on the match that be it his team’s captain or the rival team’s, there was no shortage of accolades for the Tamil Nadu pacer.
His four for 18 was described by Gautam Gambhir as the best T20 bowling he has ever seen. Daniel Vettori, on the other hand, felt that had it not been for Balaji, his team, the Royal Challengers Bagalore, could have won the match. The former New Zealand captain admitted that Balaji upset all his plans.
“He bowled exceptionally well... It was a great show on his part… In fact, the Knights’ bowling department did a good job... Even Brett Lee and Jacques Kallis had excellent spells,” Vettori said.
He was also not ready to blame the pitch for his team’s failure to chase down the 166-run target. “Losing the match has got nothing to do with the pitch. The wicket was good and one could have scored runs. The pitch at the Chinnaswamy always holds up and is always excellent for batting. There was a time when we feared that the Knights might cross 200... But I must give credit to our bowlers as they were able to restrict them to 165.”
He, in fact, had a lot of praise for his bowlers. According to Vettori, the way the Royal Challengers’ bowlers stifled the runs in the last five-six overs of the Knights’ innings, they left the field pretty confident of chasing down the total.
“I think we put up a spectacular performance with the ball today... They (the Knights) were 112 for the loss of one wicket after 12 overs… They were cruising along. In the last eight overs, the guys really stood up to restrict them to 165. Vinay Kumar was outstanding with the ball and we walked off the field feeling pretty confident,” Vettori said.
“Unfortunately, that opening spell from Lee, Kallis and Balaji set us back and we could not recover after that. While batting, we kept on losing wickets and never really got any momentum going our way,” he added.
Captain Vettori also stood behind his team’s batsmen saying that Tuesday was just an off day for them. “We lost too many wickets too quickly… It is difficult to make a comeback from such a situation,” he said.