Kallis And Gambhir Guide Kolkata To Second Win

Kallis And Gambhir Guide Kolkata To Second Win
Kallis And Gambhir Guide Kolkata To Second Win
©REUTERS/Vivek Prakash (INDIA) Picture Supplied by Action Images

Kolkata Knight Riders 160-1 (Kallis 80no) beat
Rajasthan Royals 159-4 (Pathan 2-4) by 9 wickets
Indian Premier League 2011, Jaipur

Kolkata Knight Riders ground out a comprehensive nine wicket win over Rajasthan Royals to continue their Indian Premier League charge at Jaipur.

Skipper Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis made unbeaten half-centuries as Rajasthan lost for the first time this season.

Chasing 160 runs, they got off to the worst start possible as Manvinder Bisla was run-out on the 8th ball of the innings, with the scoreboard also at eight runs. In fact, it wasn’t really out as the Rajasthan wicket-keeper Amit Paunikar didn’t collect the ball cleanly and broke the stumps. The third umpire surprisingly still gave Bisla out. Kallis was then joined in the middle by Gambhir and the duo made the run-chase look easier than it really was.

They batted with calm and poise, matching each other stroke for stroke and never looking uncomfortable against an attack that seemed to be lacking the bite to get two quality batsmen out. Gambhir seemed like still batting in the World Cup final at Wankhede while Kallis simply seems to have continued his run from last season.

The left handed batsman from Delhi ended unbeaten with 75 runs off just 44 balls, with eleven fours and one sixe. Meanwhile Kallis made 80 not out off 65 balls including seven fours and two sixes, outscoring his partner towards the end.
The two of them put on a 152-run partnership in 17.1 overs as Kolkata romped home in fine style.  

Earlier, Kolkata won the toss and put Rajasthan to bat first. Even though Shane Watson returned from his international duties, they stuck with their opening combination of Rahul Dravid and Amit Paunikar that served them well in their last two victories. They made a cautious start, perhaps it was also the swinging new ball as the match started under a bit of cloud cover. Brett Lee and L Balaji bowled tightly and the first six overs returned only 37 runs. Rajasthan lost Paunikar in the fifth over, as he tried to launch Shakib Al Hasan, out for only nine runs.

Dravid continued his strong start to this fourth season and paced the innings superbly. With Ashok Menaria, they shifted a gear as soon as the field restrictions were lifted. Even though the pitch gave hints of sluggishness, the duo batted with ease, collecting boundaries off bad balls and stealing runs at will. They put on 52 runs for the second wicket when Yusuf Pathan came onto bowl. It was his first match against Rajasthan Royals, that too at Jaipur, since shifting allegiance in this year’s auction.

Pathan struck twice in his first and only over. He first bowled Dravid, who tried to slog over midwicket, and then caught and bowled Menaria two balls later. Dravid made 35 runs off 34 balls with four fours while the youngster scored 27 off 21 balls, including two fours and one six. It was a near platform for Shane Watson and Ross Taylor and at 79 for 3 in the 12th over, the duo had their task cut out.

And they nearly didn’t disappoint – Watson carried over his form from Bangladesh, making 22 runs off 13 balls, hitting two big sixes. He was out bowled to Shaki in the 17th over. Taylor meanwhile stayed unbeaten in the end. He finished with 35 off only 25 balls, with two fours and sixes each. Thanks to their efforts, Rajasthan ended with about 20 more runs than they looked like scoring.

Chetan Narula

© Cricket World 2011