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The Kolkata Knight Riders finally got off the mark in the 5th season of the Indian Premier League picking up a massive 42 run win against a far from impressive Royal Challengers Bangalore side in Bengaluru on Tuesday. After being invited to bat first on losing the toss, Kolkata posted a competitive 165/8 on the back of two excellent partnerships worth 60 and 65 for the opening couple of wickets. Gautam Gambhir top scored with 64, while Manvinder Bisla chipped in with a handy 46. Kolkata should have scored a lot more than they did given the platform they had, but lost 7 wickets for 29 runs in 6.3 overs at the end of their innings. That wicket taking momentum continued into the second innings as Bangalore crumbled to 33/5 and scrapped together just 123 in their essay. Laxmipathy Balaji was the pick of the Kolkata bowlers, ending with magical figures of 4-18.
The Royal Challengers Bangalore welcomed the Kolkata Knight Riders in the clash of the under-achieving titans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru in the 4pm kick-off. A large crowd was there to greet the players with the Bangalore fans clearly indicating that oh so well known fact that in India cricket takes a priority over work!
There was just the solitary change for the home side, but it was a big one as the main man from Jamaica, Chris Gayle, came in for his first game of the series at the expense of the unfortunate Andrew McDonald, who played a useful cameo in the last match. There was no room for former Sri Lankan skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan as Bangalore opted not to fiddle around anymore than they needed to with their winning combination. The Kolkata Knight Riders, desperately searching for their first win of the tournament, made changes galore with allrounders Shakib Al Hasan and Ryan ten Doeschate coming in for Brendon McCullum and Sunil Narine, which forced a series of local changes for balance with Manvinder Bisla taking over the gloves and veteran seamer Laxmipathy Balaji getting a rare game.
Zaheer Khan, who looked rusty in the last game, opened the bowling with a gorgeous first over, ruined only by a delivery on Jacques Kallis' pads, which he guided to the fine leg fence. Gautam Gambhir bumped himself up to the top of the order, and led from the front, racing to 30 from just 12 balls. The powerplay went the home side's way as they raced to 60 for no loss.
Bangalore opted for the strategic time out as soon as the powerplay was over, and used it to good effect, with skipper Daniel Vettori taking the ball immediately after it, and removing Jacques Kallis for 22 with his second delivery. Bisla came out to bat at no.3 like a man possessed, and took over the mantle of taking the risks from Gautam Gambhir, who instead pushed the ball around into gaps looking for singles. Slightly surprisingly, Virat Kohli was given the 8th over of the innings, and Bisla welcomed him into the attack with a massive 6 back over his head. The powerful KKR batsmen would tonk two more off Vettori and the unfortunate Harshal Patel as the Knight Riders looked set to score the first 200+ score of the season, racing to 115/1 in just 12 overs.
Sadly for the Knight Riders' they lost their way soon after with Bisla falling to the guile of Muralitharan, stumped for 29-ball 46. From then on, the KKR scorecard read like a Kindergartner's mathematics textbook with Yusuf Pathan making 1, Manoj Tiwary 2, Ryan ten Doeschate 3, Shakib Al Hasan 4 and Laxmi Ratan Shukla 5. In between the procession, KKR also lost captain Gautam Gambhir for 64 (39b). Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan and Muttiah Muralitharan all shared an equal role in the fightback taking 2 wickets each. Kumar ended up with incredible figures of 2-18, which given the circumstances was a sensational performance.
KKR picked up 12 runs in the final over to push the score along to 165/8, benefitting from an exceptionally long batting line-up which had Brett Lee and Rajat Bhatia as nos.9 and 10 respectively. It was a handy total, but given their electric start, at least 25-30 runs short of what they should have made.
The epidemic of falling wickets continued into the RCB innings with Jacques Kallis and Laxmipathy Balaji taking 2 each inside the first 8 overs to reduce the hosts to a miserable 25/4. Kallis removed Chetershwar Pujara for 6, caught at slip, before nabbing the big fish Chris Gayle for 2, top edging a short ball to mid-on.
Laxmipathy Balaji meanwhile celebrated his return to the side by getting into the wickets removing Virat Kohli (6), AB de Villiers (10) and Mayank Agarwal (5) in successive overs. Kohli was caught off the leading edge, while De Villiers was bowled by an absolute jaffer. Agarwal fell in the over immediately after the strategic time out, playing too early and scooping an easy catch to Gautam Gambhir at cover. Sourabh Tiwary got a life on the final ball of that successful Balaji over with Shakib dropping a sitter in the deep. At 43/5 at the end of 10 overs the game already seemed as good as over.
The slide continued in the overs to come with Balaji picking up a fourth, removing Bangalore skipper Daniel Vettori for 20. Sourabh Tiwary perished soon after for 18 (19b) to end any hopes of RCB might have had of an incredible comeback.
Vinay Kumar and Harshal Patel added some respectability to the scoreline by taking Bangalore past the 100 run mark before the latter was bowled by Shakib for 10. Vinay Kumar top scored with 25, falling on the last ball trying to tonk it for 6, as RCB meandered to 123/9, ending up on the wrong end of a 42 run result.
Kolkata will hope to keep their winning momentum going when they head home to welcome Rahul Dravid and his Rajasthan Royals this coming Friday, while RCB have little time to recover from this defeat as they head off to Chennai to face the Champion Super Kings this Thursday in another 4pm start.
RCB: CH Gayle, V Kohli, SS Tiwary, C Pujara, AB de Villiers (wk), M Agarwal, DL Vettori (c), R Vinay Kumar, Z Khan, HV Patel, M Muralitharan.
KKR: JH Kallis, MS Bisla (wk), G Gambhir(c), MK Tiwary, YK Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, RN ten Doeschate, LR Shukla, R Bhatia, B Lee, L Balaji.
Kolkata Knight Riders 165/8 (20 overs, 8.25rpo)
G Gambhir 64 (39) R Vinay Kumar 2-18
M Bisla 46 (29) M Muralitharan 2-31
Royal Challengers Bangalore 123/9 (20 overs, 6.15rpo)
D Vettori 20 (12) L Balaji 4-18
Vinay Kumar 25 (26) J Kallis 2-7
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