Marauding KKR crush RCB

Cricket Champions League T20: Fine batting performance spurs Gambhirs men to nine-wicket win over hosts

Marauding KKR crush RCB

Kolkata Knight Riders Skipper Gautam Gambhir plays a shot against Royal Challengers Bangalore during the Champions league T20-2011 match in Bangalore on Thursday.PTI Photo

For Royal Challengers Bangalore, there wasn’t nearly as much as stake, and perhaps that reflected in another diffident performance with bat, ball and in the field.

The Knight Riders put on a stunning master class in chasing down a tricky target, the top-order firing with stunning authority to consign the Challengers to a second successive loss at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Thursday night, this time by a massive margin of nine wickets. Daniel Vettori’s men, who managed a competitive 169 for nine only because of their skipper’s indefatigable spirit and a brave debut by Rajoo Bhatkal, were completely outmuscled, the Knight Riders storming to 171 for one with 15 deliveries left for their first win in three matches.

The Knights thus kept their semifinal aspirations alive, but the battering the Challengers took means not only must they win their next two matches, but win them handsomely, if they entertain hopes of making the last four.

Honestly speaking, given the quality of cricket they have paraded thus far, the Challengers don’t deserve to advance. Even on a good batting strip, 170 was no easy chase, but the manner in which the Challengers capitulated was at once both abject and embarrassing.

Of course, they didn’t receive any favours from the Knights, whose top-three of man of the match Jacques Kallis (64 n.o., 47b, 4x4, 1x6), Brad Haddin – playing his first game of the competition – and skipper Gautam Gambhir was in rip-roaring mood.

Haddin (47b, 4x4, 1x6) set the tone with three consecutive boundaries off S Arvind, and batted with tremendous freedom during an opening salvo worth 62 (44b), ended by – who else?! – Vettori. That was the only joy for the Challengers in the field as Gambhir, struggling for form, pulverised them with the innings of the night, a free-flowing, handsome compilation that saw the left-hander at his best.

Unafraid to hit in the air and particularly severe on Dirk Nannes, who totally lost his way in his second spell as he had myriad problems with the foothold, Gambhir (55 n.o., 31b, 3x4, 4x6) smashed the bowling around during an undefeated stand of 109 (62b) with the serene Kallis, who hardly hit a ball in anger and yet scored at well over a run a ball.
For the second game running, the Challengers’ fielding was sub-standard, overthrows, fumbles and misfields merely compounding the woes of their bowlers.

Their woes, of course, had begun right at the start after Gambhir stuck them in. Brett Lee bowled a first-over maiden to Chris Gayle, but just when the giant Jamaican appeared to have got his measure with two beefy sixes in the next, he was yorked by a beauty from Kallis. Virat Kohli fell for a duck to Lee, Dilshan looked anything but fluent and the middle-order caved in so that at 91 for six, an early finish appeared imminent.

Fortunately for them, Gambhir made some questionable decisions including persisting with the unimpressive Jaidev Unadkat, but that should take no credit away from Vettori’s flair and flamboyance, or Bhatkal’s spirit. The duo put the top-order to shame with an electrifying association of 61 (32b), entertaining a fairly reasonable crowd that supported both the Indian franchises.

At the break, the Challengers believed they had a total capable of being defended. How that belief was proved unfounded!

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