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RANCHI: Desperation is a powerful thing. In dire need of winning all their matches to have any hope of scraping through to the last-four, defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders heaved across the line against another team almost as desperate to cement a place in the play-offs.
Chasing a middling 112 on a difficult wicket, Kolkata lost a slew of wickets to reel in the target in the last over, with five wickets to spare. Jacques Kallis (41) played a holding role, and Manoj Tiwary (24) provided the required acceleration, while Ryan ten Doeschate came in and struck the crucial winning blows at the end.
It was Kolkata’s stand-out bowling performance that restricted the fearsome Bangalore batting to 112 on Sunday, after Gautam Gambhir sent them in. Sunil Narine claimed four wickets, and Kallis and Laxmipathy Balaji picked up a brace apiece, as Bangalore found the going tough on a slow surface.
As the chase got underway, making the job infinitesimally tougher for their team were Kolkata openers Manvinder Bisla and skipper Gambhir. Both played irresponsible shots as Bangalore sensed an opening into Kolkata's vulnerable batting order.
But Kallis complemented his exceptional bowling effort with an equally responsible show with the bat. The barrel-chested all-rounder steadied Kolkata via an 30-run partnership with Yusuf Pathan and added a further 35 with Tiwary. Kallis and Tiwary fell in quick succession; ten Doeschate, however, struck crucial blows at the end to get them home and dry.
Not once was Bangalore army of big hitters allowed space to foster on a pitch not quite suited to shot making. Narine’s unplayable mystery spin took four, including the dangerous Gayle, who was subdued as he scored 33 at (would you believe it!) less than a run-a ball.
Lankan offie Sachithra Senanayak and last-season’s star Laxmipathy Balaji’s crafty changes of pace had proved impossible to get away at the start. Senanayake induced a mis-hit from Cheteshwar Pujara, Kallis got Kohli to play on, and Narine turned one past Gayle to have him stumped. Bangalore limped to their lowest Powerplay score – 22/1 – this season.
There was hope still whilst de Villiers and Moises Henriques remained. But the South African lynchpin was caught behind trying to reverse-paddle Balaji; Henriques, like others before him, was undone by the slowness of the wicket, and holed out in the deep.
Narine returned to polish his figures, skittling out the tail and adding three more victims to his prized first. Balaji too was difficult to score off. The pair were instrumental in confining Royal Challengers to an abysmal, un-defendable score.