Knight Riders v Royal Challengers, IPL, Eden Gardens April 28, 2012

Gambhir extends Kolkata's lead at No. 2


Kolkata Knight Riders 190 for 4 (Gambhir 93, McCullum 43) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 143 for 6 (Gayle 86) by 48 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Gautam Gambhir made Royal Challengers Bangalore pay for dropping him twice, batting with aggression and precision to lead Kolkata Knight Riders to a match-winning total, which the visitors struggled to chase on a traditionally slow pitch at Eden Gardens. Gambhir used the depth of his crease, as well as his feet, to pound the leg side, where he scored 11 out of his 14 boundaries, primarily through pull shots. His 93, and supporting acts from Brendon McCullum and Jacques Kallis, helped Knight Riders stay No. 2 and move two points clear of their closest rivals, Royal Challengers and Chennai Super Kings.

Knight Riders' bowlers also came to the fore during the defence, striking early and neutralising their biggest threat, Chris Gayle, by keeping him off strike. Yusuf Pathan, who has struggled for form with bat and ball, bowled an economical opening spell, during which he dismissed Tillakaratne Dilshan in the first over. In the sixth, Kallis ripped the heart out of Royal Challengers' chase by trapping Virat Kohli lbw and having AB de Villiers caught miscuing a pull off his first ball. The visitors were 34 for 3, and by the end of the eighth over Gayle had faced only 16 balls and scored as many runs. The chase went nowhere after that, despite Gayle batting until the 20th over to finish with 86 off 58; Sunil Narine confounding batsmen with his variations on a responsive pitch.

Royal Challengers' struggle for any sort of fluency only highlighted the quality of Gambhir's performance after he chose to bat. Despite scoring heavily between long-on and square leg, Gambhir's first boundary was on the off side, when he cut his first ball, from Zaheer Khan, through point. So was his second, but his slash to third man off Zaheer was initially caught by Harshal Patel, running and diving to his left before he lost control of the ball after hitting the ground. Two balls later Gambhir, on 13, cut firmly towards gully, where Gayle stuck out his left hand but did not catch the ball. Gambhir went on to score 80 more runs, and dominate partnerships of 95 and 80 with McCullum and Kallis.

Gambhir's comfort on this surface was in contrast to McCullum's struggle. Despite tucking the first ball of the match for four, McCullum failed to time the spinners and was on 11 off 20 balls after six overs. That Knight Riders had reached 46 for 0 was entirely down to Gambhir. He even exchanged words with de Villiers, which seemed to intensify his determination.

McCullum eventually began to break free, accelerating his sluggish strike rate to more than a run a ball. He had just swept and driven his countryman Daniel Vettori for boundaries when he missed a cut and was bowled in the 11th over. Now in the company of Kallis, Gambhir went from strength to strength, muscling deliveries from all varieties of bowlers to and over the midwicket boundary. Perhaps it was the fatigue caused by the intensity of his performance, but Gambhir failed to score a boundary off six balls, before holing out to long-off in the 19th over, when he had a real chance of scoring a maiden IPL century.

Kallis, however, ensured the momentum did not abate, striking three colossal sixes straight and over midwicket to finish on 41 off 27 balls. Shortly afterward, he would deal Royal Challengers two body blows off consecutive balls during the chase, ending the game as a contest. Gayle went on to muscle six sixes, and became the highest run-scorer of IPL 2012, but most of those were after Royal Challengers had no chance of winning.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • giri on April 30, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    Sehwag and Gambhir are good only on flat and slow indian pitches. We didn't forget how they played in Australia and England (0-8). In IPL any tom, dick and harry can hit like they do.

  • Dummy4 on April 30, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    Good job RCB. Bunch of losers spoil quality batsmen like Gayle and ABD. Any justification for the packages you carry on your shoulders? Virat, Vinay, Kohli, Zaheer, vettori & Dilshan good to see good names but absolutely useless. Big useless guy in the team seem to be Venkatesh prasad. Is he really a Bowling coach? It's better to ignore watch them playing than getting frustrated.

  • Md.Taraq on April 30, 2012, 11:12 GMT

    @soumyas.Thank you soumyas.i like your truth.But for showing performance at big stage he need to get chance in the team.Be patience.InSa-ALLA-H not only you and Indians but cricket lovers of all over the world will respect him in future .

  • Dummy4 on April 30, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    About time Vettori made way for Murali in RCB team. He doesn't seem physically fit either

  • Dummy4 on April 30, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    I love your WI World Cup squad Randy_Wilson. Boy oh boy . . . they will be more than a hand full to contend with. They will be more than capable to destroy any other team, but I still hope that South Africa can, somehow, this time, manage to win the tournament. They have the players, the belief and the ability to do so.

  • Tanvirul hoque on April 30, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    I dont know why some of my bd mate r jst wasting their tym.... Its clear that Shakib is not going to get any chances....they r just doing the same what they did with "Mashrafe" they r gonna sit him most of the tym n then bang! All on a sudden they'll give him a chance n if he fails in the 1 chance they'll jst throw him... I still remember what they did with mash bt anyway guys Shakib is going to play County though he was supposed to take rest after IPL, he is getting the Rest by sitting in the dugouts jst w8ing for the county action

  • soumyas on April 30, 2012, 5:53 GMT

    let me be clear to all shakib fans, IN India, we indian fans don't consider Shakib as a gr8, he is just another gud player in IPL. But opponent teams do Fear Brendon Mcllum and do respect Jack Kallis. For Shakib to command respect from indian fans he needs to perform at big stages for much more longer time.. and all we know that he can be a useful contributor but not deadly or fearing like Mcllums,Gayles,shewags...So please stop blabbering all the time abt shakib.

  • shailesh on April 30, 2012, 3:30 GMT

    @Raiyan24r: I can counter most your points. but i will stick to the counter you have made to my view. yes I definitely think, players in IPL are considered as per their performance in T20. what else do you think is the consideration. players like Levi,Hodge,Azhar Mahmood were selected based on their performances in T20...

  • Dummy4 on April 29, 2012, 17:37 GMT

    soumyas: And the worst thing is when Shakib got picked and din't contribute with Bat then they said he should get bat higher :O ! I mean, he is a World-Class player if he would bat higher then who will score quick runs in death-overs ? Das ? Bhatia ? U Kidding me ? Yusuf Pathan is in horrible form else he would have done that job and the saddest part is there in NO REPLACEMENT for him either, so he has to be in every playing XI.

  • Dummy4 on April 29, 2012, 17:27 GMT

    Raiyan24r: yeah I'm in for Shakib replacing McCullum. But sadly KKR's think-tank don't agree with us. And for God sake, don't just blame Gauti for this. Whole team management including professionals (from different countries) such as Wasim Akram (who is the bowling coach) take decision about playing XI.

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