In a week building along nicely towards the Durga Puja festivities, Kolkata Knight Riders pepped up its fan-base with an emphatic nine-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore in a Champions League Group B match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday night.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir (55 n.o., 31b, 3x4, 4x6) and Man of the Match Jacques Kallis (64 n.o., 47b, 4x4, 1x6) helped KKR stay afloat with two points from three matches while RCB suffered its second loss on the trot. Chasing RCB's 169 for nine, KKR scored 171 for one in 17.3 overs.
KKR set off eagerly with Brad Haddin dominating the opening partnership of 62 runs from 44 deliveries with Kallis. Haddin (42, 27b, 5x4, 2x6) tucked into S. Arvind and the left-arm seamer was straining to see where the ball had vanished while there was no time to savour his selection to the Indian One Day International squad.
Haddin failed to cash in on a reprieve as Tillakaratne Dilshan, who replaced an injured A.B. de Villiers in the RCB eleven, failed to stump him off Syed Mohammad. Haddin added two more runs and drove host skipper Daniel Vettori straight to Virat Kohli.
The pursuit suffered no hitches as Gambhir joined Kallis. The KKR captain watched a heave off debutant Raju Bhatkal pop out of a leaping Saurabh Tiwary's hands at long-off.
At the other end, Kallis whittled his runs with ease as a match-winning unbeaten 109-run second-wicket partnership took shape. And when Gambhir smote RCB's key bowlers — Vettori and Dirk Nannes — over mid-wicket, KKR was well on course to a much-needed victory.
Earlier, RCB's Chris Gayle (25) stayed quiet during Brett Lee's opening over. Lee bowled a shade outside the off-stump and a rare maiden was registered. Normal service was resumed in Lee's next over as Gayle clouted two sixes. Lee switched to around the wicket and pinged in a few yorkers and Gayle then swatted Kallis.
The rapid start was inexplicably followed by a slump. Kallis darted one into Gayle's stumps and Kohli's leading edge off Lee sailed to Gambhir. Dilshan and Tiwary then had a 42-run third-wicket partnership that primarily rode on singles.
The duo was dismissed in a span of eight deliveries and RCB was again searching for a fresh spark. Dilshan was out to a smart piece of glove-work as Haddin whipped the bails while the opener's feet was in the air for a split-second as he tried to poke at Rajat Bhatia's delivery that bounced a shade high.
Mayank Agarwal clattered two sixes but left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla struck twice. Agarwal and Mohammad Kaif returned to the dug-out and Gambhir briefly enjoyed the luxury of employing a slip and silly-point.
Suddenly RCB's gentle trot turned into a gallop as Vettori (44, 23b, 5x4, 2x6) reverse-hit, lofted and flicked Abdulla. The host skipper was not yet finished as he moved across and pulled Jaidev Unadkat twice over backward square-leg while Bhatkal also shone.
The duo's 61-run seventh-wicket partnership set the base for a score that at one stage seemed improbable for RCB.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: C. Gayle b Kallis 25 (16b, 3x6), T. Dilshan st. Haddin b Bhatia 18 (21b, 2x4), V. Kohli c Gambhir b Lee 0 (4b), S. Tiwary c ten Doeschate b Yusuf 19 (18b, 1x4, 1x6), M. Agarwal c Yusuf b Abdulla 13 (7b, 2x6), Md. Kaif lbw b Abdulla 5 (9b), D. Vettori c Ahmed b Unadkat 44 (23b, 5x4, 2x6), R. Bhatkal c Yusuf b Lee 25 (18b, 2x4, 1x6), Syed Mohammad c Yusuf b Unadkat 8 (4b, 2x4), S. Arvind (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-7, w-5): 12; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 169.
Fall of wickets: 1-28, 2-29, 3-62, 4-71, 5-81, 6-91, 7-152, 8-163, 9-169.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Lee 4-1-34-2, Kallis 4-0-28-1, Ahmed 1-0-10-0, Yusuf 2-0-10-1, Bhatia 3-0-25-1, Abdulla 3-0-20-2, Unadkat 3-0-35-2.
Kolkata Knight Riders: J. Kallis (not out) 64 (47b, 4x4, 1x6), B. Haddin c Kohli b Vettori 42 (27b, 5x4, 2x6), G. Gambhir (not out) 55 (31b, 3x4, 4x6); Extras (b-2, w-8): 10; Total (for one wkt., in 17.3 overs): 171.
Fall of wicket: 1-62.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Nannes 3-0-40-0, Arvind 3-0-37-0, Syed Mohammad 3-0-26-0, Vettori 4-0-27-1, Bhatkal 2-0-20-0, Gayle 1-0-6-0, Kohli 1.3-0-13-0.
Keywords: CLT20, Champions League T20, Royal Challengers, Kolkata Knight Riders