George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo
BAN v SL (1)
SLCD-XI in ENG (1)
County DIV1 (4)
County DIV2 (4)
Anil Kumble had asked for improvement from his bowlers after conceding 180-plus totals in their last three matches. Against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday, Royal Challengers Bangalore were on course to concede 180 or worse again, but they didn't …
The first fightback was led by Jacques Kallis. Praveen Kumar, in the fifth over, had been blitzed by Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle for 21 runs. Kumble turned to Kallis and was rewarded instantaneously, when Gayle drove the second ball of the sixth to Rahul Dravid at extra cover. Kolkata, however, reached their best Powerplay score - 61 for 1 - and took another 11 off the seventh. Kallis then sent down a mix of slower balls and bouncers and conceded only four off the eighth. Kolkata plundered 42 runs between overs five and seven, but only managed 11 runs between eight and ten. It was a familiar script for Kolkata had endured periods of lull before: 30 runs between overs 12 and 16 against Delhi, and only 23 runs between overs six and ten against Punjab
The second fightback began after Brendon McCullum laid into S Sriram, hitting three fours and a six on the leg-side to take 18 runs off the 11th over. With Ganguly for company, McCullum had charged Kolkata to 101 for 1 when Kumble brought Vinay Kumar into the attack. McCullum tried to play the ramp shot, but Vinay outsmarted him with a straighter line that sent the batsman tumbling. He then dismissed Ganguly by cramping him on the pull and ended the over having conceded only two runs off it. Kallis followed up with another two-run over, which had a couple of intense short balls, one of which accounted for Manoj Tiwary. Kolkata were 105 for 3 after 13.
The third fightback was the decisive one. McCullum threatened to cut loose again after Angelo Mathews had been dismissed off the first ball of the 14th over. He collected three streaky boundaries to third man and Kolkata moved ahead by 16, to 121, in the space of four deliveries. This time Kumble brought his experience into play. He varied pace, trajectory and length and conceded only three runs off each of his last two overs that sandwiched a nine-run over from Dale Steyn. In his final over, Kumble also induced a mis-timed pull from an unbalanced McCullum and had him caught on the square-leg boundary. Kolkata's hopes of 180 ended there and Kumble finished with figures of 1 for 17.
The final fightback was Bangalore's coup de grace. Having scored only 19 in the previous four overs, Cheteshwar Pujara gave Kolkata a 15-run penultimate over by ruining Jacques Kallis' figures with two sixes. However a steady stream of wickets - six in the space of eight overs - had left Kolkata with two tailenders to face the last six balls of the innings. Vinay Kumar bowled them and conceded only five, limiting Kolkata to 160.
Kolkata were unable to put two big overs together after the Powerplay and Bangalore's ability bounce back from an expensive over and take wickets in the next proved instrumental in winning a crucial game.