RCB back on track with sparkling win

Dravid, Uthappa fifties spur Bangalore to second spot

RCB back on track with sparkling win

BIG HITTER: Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Robin Uthappa reverse sweeps Ajantha Mendis to a six during his quickfire 52 against Kolkata Knight Riders at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on Saturday. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

From a seemingly commanding position of 103/1 in just over 11 overs Knight Riders, after put into bat first, could manage only 160 for nine as last eight overs produced just 57 runs. Given the brief history of the pitch, on which totals in excess of 200 and 180 have been successfully chased down, a target of 161 always looked achievable given the home side’s batting might.

But there was a stage when things looked a little tricky for the hosts. Surprise selection S Sriram, in place of Manish Pandey, failed to pace the innings leaving Rahul Dravid to make all the running. A good 72 came for the second wicket, but the asking rate kept mounting when Sriram got out.

Expectedly Robin Uthappa walked in, but it was instead Dravid (52, 35b, 5x4, 2x6) who took it upon himself to up the ante by launching into Ajit Agarkar whom he hit for two consecutive sixes and reach his first 50 of this IPL.

The stylish right-hander was done in by a slower one from Angelo Mathews, but by then he had restored some order in the Challenger’s innings.Needing 59 off 46, it wasn’t going to be an uphill task with Uthappa and Ross Taylor in the middle.

The Kodava lad once again rose to the occasion racing to a 22-ball 50 that included four hits to the fence and four over it and the match, which at one stage headed for a close finish, ended in a flash as the Challengers replied with 162 for three in 17.1 overs.        
Barring pockets of profligacy, Challengers’ bowlers came up with a disciplined performance that forced the Knight Riders to settle for a total that was much less than what they appeared to put up at one stage.

The left-handed combination of Sourav Ganguly and Chris Gayle made a steady start before the West Indian decided to shift the gear. After clattering Dale Steyn for a couple of fours in the fourth over, Gayle lay into Praveen Kumar, whose third over went for 21 runs and the Kolkatans had raced to 50 at the end of the fifth over.

Breakthrough
Just when things looked going out of control for the home side, Kallis provided the much-needed breakthrough dismissing the dangerous Gayle. Brendon McCullum walked in next and the memories of his blistering unbeaten 158 in the opening match of the inaugural IPL flashed through the mind.

The Kiwi batsman threatened an encore with an array of boundaries, some off clean hits and some off the edges.But the Knight Riders kept losing wickets at regular intervals that pegged them back every time they looked like in control of things. R Vinay Kumar returned to his wicket-taking ways and it made a telling difference to the team’s fortunes.

The right-arm pacer picked up three wickets, including that of Ganguly, and along with his skipper Anil Kumble, who came up with the best bowling show of the day conceding just over four runs an over and the wicket of McCullum, effectively shut all the escape routes

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