As Ranchi debuted as an IPL venue on Sunday, hosting a low-scoring game in which Kolkata Knight Riders got the better of the daunting Royal Challengers Bangalore batting line-up to register a five-wicket win, it was the pitch that was in the spotlight the most. Royal Challengers managed just 115 for 9, but their left-arm spinner Murali Kartik said his batsmen ended just about 10 short of a defendable total given the conditions. Knight Riders allrounder Jacques Kallis also said batting was difficult on the pitch, which "wasn't ideal for T20 cricket".
"It looked a bit greenish from far but was slightly on the slowish side and double-paced more than anything else," Kartik said after the match. "Sometimes you never know what is the best total on this kind of surface. I thought possibly 10 more runs would have been a fighting total. One-twenty-five was what we were looking at."
Knight Riders could never really get going in the chase either, and edged home with just four balls to spare. Kallis, who was named Man of the Match for his 41 off 45 balls and 2 for 17, said: "Probably [a target of] 130-135 would have been tough. It wasn't an ideal wicket for T20 cricket. But those were the conditions given and I think we played better under the conditions than RCB."
Kartik and Kallis were involved in a bit of an exchange over how much the batsmen were backing up; Kartik warned Manoj Tiwary and Kallis about backing up too much in the 16th over of the chase, but ball after ball they kept inching forward until things got a bit heated and the umpire had to intervene.
Talking about the incident, Kartik said: "Look, at the end of the day when we [bowlers] miss even by a fraction of a line, it's called a no-ball. When the lines are the same and the margins are the same, you can't be stealing a yard or two. I don't think such things are acceptable. I don't know how people accept it, I can't accept it. When I am supposed to be within the line when I deliver, the batsmen are supposed to be within the crease. And again, the margins there are minimal when you look at direct hits and stuff."
The loss leaves Royal Challengers with 16 points in 14 games, behind Chennai Super Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians on the points table. They have two matches to go, and it could be a close-run thing whether they make the playoffs even if they win both their remaining games. However both these games will be at home and, despite their ordinary record on the road, Royal Challengers are yet to lose at the Chinnaswamy Stadium this season.
"It's going to be a must-win situation for us now I guess," Kartik said. "And since no one else is going to do us any favours, we need to take care of ourselves. But we are still in a good position, we are still among the top four and hopefully [will register] a couple of wins at home."