Bangalore: There's not much one can do when Chris Gayle is on song. The West Indies star smashed an 85 not out off 50 balls with four boundaries and nine sixes as the Kolkata Knight Riders crashed to their second defeat in three games in IPL-VI.
Gayle was off to a relaxed start in the Powerplay overs, but gained momentum as the innings progressed. The defending champions just had no clue on how to stop the rampaging Royal Challengers Bangalore opener at the Chinnaswamy, on Thursday.
There was not a false stroke and he didn't look back after hoisting Ryan McLaren for two consecutive sixes in the sixth over. Gayle's demolition job was complete in the 18th over when he clobbered Lakshmipathy Balaji for two sixes to complete the eight-wicket victory.
The 155-run target was challenging, but once Gayle found his touch, after a rare slip-up in their previous match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, there was no looking back for the Royal Challengers.
The Knight Riders expected a closer contest, after having restricted the hosts to 21 for one in the first five overs. But both Gayle and Virat Kohli then tore through the Knight Riders attack to dismiss any chances of their making a comeback.
They targeted McLaren ' who was replacing Brett Lee ' and Pradeep Sangwan, who came in for Laxmi Ratan Shukla.
The occasional relief for the Knight Riders came through Sunil Narine's miserly spell ' 4-0-17-0. Both Gayle and Kohli didn't take any risk against the off-spinner and concentrated on targeting the other bowlers.
There was generous supply of length balls, making it easier for Gayle to hit over the top. Change of pace and variations were of no use as he dispatched everything the Knight Riders bowlers threw at him with disdain.
Balaji provided a breakthrough in the 10th over when Kohli hit a slower delivery into the hands of sweeper cover. As he departed, Kohli got involved in an ugly spat with Gambhir before Rajat Bhatia intervened and pulled away the Knight Riders captain.
The Royal Challengers captain's 35 came off 27 balls and included four boundaries and two sixes. The pair added 63 for the second wicket.
Gayle added 83 for the unbroken third wicket with AB de Villiers (22 not out), who played the role of second fiddle to perfection.
The Knight Riders failed to keep the momentum in the later stages. As has been the trend, their innings revolved around Gambhir's 59 off 46 balls. The Knight Riders captain was fluent and dictated terms to the Royal Challengers bowlers after being put in to bat.
While the other batsmen struggled to come to terms with the wicket and the Royal Challengers attack, Gambhir looked at ease as he found the gaps with precision and superb timing.
He looked like he had a plan to unsettle Muttiah Muralidharan. With two consecutive boundaries in the legendary off-spinner's very first over, he didn't allow him to settle into a length.
The visitors were 95 for two in the 13th over when Yusuf Pathan, who was shaping up well, holed out to long on. However, they kept losing wickets thereafter, including two in the final over, to finish at 154 for eight.
Gambhir shared a 51-run partnership with Pathan (27 off 17 balls). Jacques Kallis (16) and Manoj Tiwary (23) also began well, but could not convert the starts into big knocks.
Gambhir escaped being run out, following a mix-up with Kallis when he was on one. He cut to point and set off for a single, but Kallis didn't move from his crease. Gambhir was lucky since a well-directed throw from Kohli would have seen his departure.
Having failed in the last two games, Pathan began with a bang smacking three consecutive boundaries of Ranganath Vinay Kumar. Jaydev Unadkat was clobbered for a six over deep mid-wicket, but he fell soon after.