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IPL 2012 – KKR vs RCB: Kolkata Seal Season’s Maiden Win

By on April 10, 2012

Kolkata Knight Riders 165 for 8 (Gambhir 64, R Vinay Kumar 2-18) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 123 for 9 (Vinay Kumar 25, Balaji 4-18) by 42 runs…

L Balaji bowled Kolkata Knight Riders to their first victory in IPL 2012 against a strong Royal Challengers Bangalore batting line-up. He formed part of a destructive, three-pronged Knight Riders’ pace attack that saw Brett Lee create pressure and Jacques Kallis get the early breakthroughs.

Their consistent line outside the off stump and slightly shorter length had the Royal Challengers’ batsmen tied down. The required run-rate eventually soared out of control, leaving the home side playing catch-up throughout.

One of Kallis’ two early strikes removed the biggest threat in the Royal Challengers line-up, Chris Gayle, before he could do any damage. After having Cheteshwar Pujara caught at slip with a ball that angled into him and bounced a little more than usual, Kallis simply presented Gayle with a short ball. With only a single added to the total after Pujara was dismissed, Gayle’s shot was a response to pressure and he top-edged a pull to midwicket.

Responsibility then fell on Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers’ shoulders and neither was able to get the job done as Balaji brought a second wave of attack. Kohli was beaten twice by Balaji before getting a leading edge to point. De Villiers followed in the next over, bowled by a beautiful delivery which angled in from a good length and straightened to hit the off stump.

Balaji continued to trouble the batsmen with his line. He had further reward when Mayank Agarwal spooned a catch to extra cover and then bowled Daniel Vettori with a slower ball to complete his quadruple haul. He should have had a fifth when Saurabh Tiwary swung violently and presented Shakib Al Hasan with a simple catch at deep square-leg that was fluffed.

By the time Balaji had finished his quota, Royal Challengers were 61 for 6 after 12 overs. Tiwary was the only recognised batsmen at the crease and the required run rate was over 13. It ballooned to over 30 as the innings neared an end, ensuring the Knight Riders were able to comfortably defend a total that, at the halfway mark, appeared a few short.

Despite 165 being the highest total Knight Riders have posted this season, they would have wanted more after establishing a platform from which a score in excess of 200 seemed possible. Captain Gautam Gambhir opened the batting and combined with Kallis and Manvinder Bisla in two aggressive partnerships to take his team to 125 for 1 in the 14th over.

Bisla was preferred over big-hitters like Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate despite Knight Riders’ start and he repaid the faith shown in him. He hit the ball with immense power, complementing Gambhir, who showed the deftest of touches with his dab to third man off Muttiah Muralitharan.

The Knight Riders’ captain brought up the fastest half-century of the tournament so far, off 28 balls, with a lofted shot over cover but could not press on as much as he should have. Bisla was stumped three balls later, in the first boundary-free over of the innings and the Knight Riders slid steadily from there.

Royal Challengers effected a collapse which saw Knight Riders lose seven wickets for 26 runs. R Vinay Kumar was the chief strangler and used wily changes of pace to dry up the runs. His economical effort was headlined with persistent use of the short ball and he was well backed up by Muralitharan and committed fielding.

The Royal Challengers’ bowlers conceded only 50 runs in the last eight overs but their batsmen did not do justice to their efforts in the field.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo‘s South Africa correspondent

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