Bangalore: The Kolkata Knight Riders finally tasted victory in their IPL-V campaign when they defeated the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 42 runs, at the Chinnaswamy, on Tuesday.
Beaten comprehensively in their last two outings, the desperate Knights made four changes in the starting line-up and beat the Bangalore side. What was encouraging was they put up an all-round show — determined batting and even better bowling.
Put into bat by Daniel Vettori, the Knights posted a challenging total of 165 for eight. They then restricted the home team to just 123 for nine, courtesy some fine bowling by Laxmipathy Balaji.
The foundation of the Knights’ innings was laid by three top order batsmen — skipper Gautam Gambhir (64), Jacques Kallis (22) and Manvinder Bisla (46) — as they together put on 125 runs for the first two wickets in the most entertaining manner.
The credit for the Knights’ victory should largely go to the two replacements, Bisla and Balaji. While Bisla’s quick-fire knock helped the Knights immensely in reaching a respectable total, Balaji was the pick of the bowlers with a four-wicket haul that demolished whatever hopes RCB had even after losing the two openers early.
After Kallis broke the backbone of the hosts by sending back the two openers — Cheteshwar Pujara (6) and Chris Gayle (2) — Balaji struck rich by dismissing Virat Kohli (6), AB de Villiers (10), Mayank Agarwal (5) and Vettori (20) in quick successions.
He bowled four overs on the trot to finish with figures of four for 18. The match was virtually over when RCB were reduced to 33 for five in 10 overs. Later, Shakib-al Hasan, who was brought in for Sunil Narine, also bagged a couple of wickets.
The removal of Gayle in the fourth over by Kallis could be termed as the turning point of the tie. Playing his first match of IPL-V, the West Indies superstar, looked strangely subdued during his short eight-ball knock.
Gayle, who took the IPL by storm last season by scoring 608 runs in just 12 innings, tried to pull a short delivery but his top edge safely landed into the safe hands of Laxmi Ratan Shukla at mid-on.
No wonder then that the dismissal sparked celebrations in the Knights’ camp. Half the battle, actually, was won through Gayle’s dismissal.
Earlier, one could notice a big change in Knights’ batting approach. Aware that they hardly had a good partnership in the last two matches, they looked determined not to repeat the mistake. While Kallis and Gambhir put on 60 runs for the first wicket, the captain, along with Bisla, carried on the good work for the second wicket. The duo added 65 runs in only 43 deliveries and showed scant respect for the bowlers.
While Gambhir, who promoted himself as an opener on Tuesday, struck 64 in only 39 balls, with the help of seven fours and one six, Bisla’s blistering 46 came off only 29 balls with two fours and three sixes.
Gambhir looked devastating from the beginning. In the fourth over, he punished Harshal Patel for 15 runs that included two fours and one six and then hammered Zaheer Khan for two boundaries in the next over.
Bisla, too, was not far behind and attacked top bowlers like Vettori, Ranganath Vinay Kumar and Muttiah Muralidharan.
Yet, the Knights faltered a bit in the last few overs, to be precise after the dismissal of Bisla in the 14th over. Placed in a position where they were expected to finish with a 180-plus score, the visitors could manage only 165.
After batting brilliantly in the first part of their innings, the Knights lost six wickets in the last six overs.