Jubilant KKR players after the victory, on Thursday
Sharjah: If there was one right thing that Gautam Gambhir did as Kolkata Knight Riders’ captain here on Thursday, it was including the 24-year-old Australian Chris Lynn in the playing XI against the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
KKR won by the skin of their teeth, just two runs, to hand RCB their first defeat of the IPL VII.
Lynn repaid his captain gloriously for the faith he showed. The spectacular catch on the boundary, that sent back AB de Villiers off the fourth ball of the last over, was a match-winner in itself. Add to that his 31-ball 45 that was the highest score of the KKR innings, and Lynn surely deserved all the accolade that came his way.
RCB had seemed to be cruising with just 18 needed off the last two overs, and Yuvraj Singh and De Villiers at the crease. But Umesh Yadav struck at the right moment to send back a settled Yuvraj. However, with De Villiers still in the middle, and only nine required off the last over, the game still looked very much in RCB’s control.
But that catch by Lynn changed the story and how!
The catch was a blinder. De Villiers struck a short of length delivery off Vinay Kumar towards deep mid wicket. Lynn, trying to get under the ball, slipped. But amazingly he arched back to take the catch, and though he was dangerously close to the boundary line, he managed to maintain balance and take it cleanly.
Put into bat by Virat Kohli, KKR managed a rather modest 150/7. The 151-run target never looked overwhelming, but at the end, it proved a little too steep for Vijay Mallya’s team.
The captains of the two teams, Kohli and Gambhir, have shared many a dressing room. And naturally they would know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
The positives all seemed to be going Kohli’s way when not only did he win the toss, but Gambhir walked back to the pavilion with his third successive duck of the tournament under his belt. In the end, though, it was Gambhir who had the last laugh.
The RCB chase had little fireworks. Yogesh Takawale (40, with 8 fours) and Parthiv Patel grafted 67 for the first wicket. With Kohli and Yuvraj (both 31) at the crease, it had seemed that RCB would reach the target without much ado.
But the match really turned on its head in the last two overs, giving KKR their second win in three matches.
Earlier, Gambhir’s dismissal saw the KKR innings get off to an ominous start. With only 150 on the board, even die-hard fans were in doubt over their chances of a win.
It was left to veteran Jacques Kallis to steady the innings with Lynn. The duo put together 80 valuable runs for the third wicket and that was the only partnership of worth in the KKR innings.
It was Lynn who took the fight to the RCB camp, as he singled out none other than Muthiah Muralidharan for special treatment. He welcomed the Sri Lankan legend when he came into the attack in the seventh over with a huge six, and struck another in the same over for good measure.
Lynn’s third boundary was struck off Yuzvendra Chahal. With three sixes and three boundaries, he made a 31-ball 45 to top score for KKR. Kallis made 43 off 42, with two boundaries and a six, also off Muralidharan.
Varun Aaron sent back dangerman Lynn in the 12 th over. Mistiming a delivery, Lynn failed to connect as hard as he would have liked and de Villers at long off made no mistake. With Yusuf Pathan not disturbing the scorers, the KKR innings suffered another set back. But the bigger one came when Chahal put an end to Kallis’s knock, with another mistimed shot being taken well by Takawale.
Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav did try to rev up the scoring, but in the end they too struggled. Apart from Muralidharan and Morkel who took a beating, the rest of the RCB bowlers did put up a disciplined show. The best among the lot was of course Aaron, who returned with figures of 4-0-16-3.