Royal Challengers v Knight Riders, CLT20, Bangalore September 29, 2011

Gambhir re-discovers touch

It may only have been a Twenty20 game, the pitch may not have been the most taxing, and the bowling may not have asked too many questions, but the half-century from Gautam Gambhir at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday was still significant. Not only did it propel Kolkata Knight Riders to a campaign-saving win, it was also Gambhir's first noteworthy innings since concussion cut short his involvement in India's wretched tour of England.

The concussion caused blurry vision, dizziness and nausea, forcing him out of action for a month, even making him miss the qualifying phase of the Champions League T20. His first game on return was against Somerset on Sunday, where he picked up a golden duck. There was only marginal improvement in his next match, where he punched a catch to extra cover for 9 as South Australia pummelled the Knight Riders to a second defeat.

Against the Bangalore Royal Challengers, the Knight Riders decided to re-jig the top order, leaving out wicketkeeper and opener Manvinder Bisla and giving Australia's Brad Haddin his first game of the tournament. The move worked as Haddin clobbered his way to a 27-ball 42, which absolved his opening partner Jacques Kallis of the responsibility to play more expansive strokes.

By the time Gambhir walked in, the Knight Riders were well placed at 62 for 1 in the eighth over. He had a muscled shot tipped over for six at long-off early on, but barring that sliver of a chance for Saurabh Tiwary, Gambhir played an untroubled innings, not needing to resort to slogs despite scoring at a Twenty20 rate.

There were the pokes and nudges for singles square on both sides, his ease against spin was on display with a couple of boundaries against Syed Mohammad - one a down-the-track lofted straight hit and the other a backfoot punch past backward point - and by the time he accepted some freebies from Dirk Nannes in the 13th over, the Knight Riders were on course for their first win of the campaign.

He finished off with a bunch of sixes against Bangalore's main threats, Daniel Vettori and Nannes, needing only five deliveries to shoot from 34 to the half-century. Gambhir said the late surge was prompted by the Knight Riders' need to increase the net run-rate, which still remains negative though they beat the Royal Challengers with 15 deliveries to spare.

"We knew we had to win both the games if we had to stay in the competition, and that run-rate would play an important role," Gambhir said after the match. "We reached a stage where we could accelerate, for that we had to set the base and we did it perfectly."

Gambhir was also pleased with his batting effort, especially as the Indian team has a busy five months coming up, culminating in the high-profile tour of Australia. "This was very important," he said. "Any runs under your belt is important for your confidence, especially given the amount of cricket that is coming in the future, so it is very satisfying, most satisfying thing was that your runs help your side win."

The Knight Riders will be thrilled with the victory over Royal Challengers but still need a big win against the unbeaten Warriors on Saturday to stay in contention for the semi-finals, which adds to the importance of the half-century from Gambhir - their captain and the player around whom they built their team.

Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 30, 2011, 10:50 GMT

    LOL Gambhir didn't "rediscovered" anything, its simply an Indian pitch so he played well. I'd believe when he plays with same strength overseas again.

  • Parthasarathy on September 30, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    Its so funny how these guys are injured really bad few days back but come back to play cash rich IPL games and perform well too...

  • Naresh on September 30, 2011, 8:33 GMT

    India needs Gauti to return to form. This is a timley return and would be load off Dhoni's shoulder for the coming England series. I worry about the load Dhoni is carrying. He simply needs some rest. With so many seniors missing it is not possible. Dhoni should have skipped the T20 games to revitalise himself. Yusaf Pathan should have been in the ODI team. Majority of the bowling is being handled by rookies. Mixture of youth and seniors has always been India's way. This goes against the trend. Good luck to them!!!!!

  • Vijayendra on September 30, 2011, 7:08 GMT

    The title should read "Back from England, Gambhir re-discovers touch".

  • manish on September 30, 2011, 5:17 GMT

    These runs are value less, on that pitch even vettori scored at a rapid pace.This is the problem with KKR on flat pitches the guys at top takes advantage,scores run and maintain there averages but on tougher tracks against quality attack it up to Ryans and tiwaris and Shakib who are thrown to the wolves.Poor shakib have already paid price for it by loosing his place in the team.Also Mr.kalis slow batting will cost KKR in the future .Watch it.

  • natmastak on September 30, 2011, 4:47 GMT

    good to see gauti back in form. at least Eng will have some resistance.a good Indian fightback is needed to make this season spicy.

  • Agam on September 30, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    Gambhir looked very good and back in touch during his knock. Good that he played CL games after getting fit to get some match practice before Eng series.

  • Aidan on September 30, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    Funny it takes CL or IPL type match to "rediscover form" - playing for your country these days in less of a motive for playing well than playing for a lucrative corporate celebrity focused team. Meanwhile Eng still celebrate.

  • Sachit on September 30, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Let's wait and see how he bats against Warriors in KKR's last league match. Except Vettori, RCB's bowling attack was mediocre only yesterday so that did not offer real challenge but Warriors have tough bowling attacking well supported with apt fielding.

  • No featured comments at the moment.