Royal Challengers smash Knight Riders on Gayle power

Bangalore, April 11 (IANS) Man mountain from Jamaica Chris Gayle smashed his second half-century of the season to help Royal Challengers Bangalore record their third win as the hosts defeated holders Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) game here Thursday.

It was a Ugadi gift by 33-year old Gayle who unleashed a typical blitz (85 not out, 50b, 4x4, 9x6) as Royal Challengers replied with 158 for two in 17.3 overs to Knight Riders's total of 154 for eight. Even that Knight Riders' total was possible mainly due to an attacking 59 (49b, 7x4, 1x6) by skipper Gautam Gambhir. He, however, was a helpless spectator along with his team-mates as the Jamaican Gayle unleashed himself.

The successful Royal Challengers chase was built around two entertaining partnerships. Gayle and captain Virat Kohli (35, 27b, 4x4, 2x6) put on 63 runs for the second wicket that took the game away from Knight Riders.

On Kohli's departure, Gayle and AB de Villiers (22 not out, 22b, 2x4, 1x6) took the team over the finish line with an 83-run stand for the unfinished third wicket.

Barring off-spinner Sunil Narine who conceded only 17 runs in his four overs, the rest of the Knight Riders bolwers hardly looked the part once Gayle got going. The lack of discipline in their bowling too contributed to the Knight Riders' defeat with as many as eight wides and two no-balls.

Earlier, Knight Riders, though scoring at a fair clip, could never really collar the Royal Challengers' attack and it was left to Gambhir to hold the innings together while other batsmen, notably Jacques Kallis (16), Yusuf Pathan (27) and Manoj Tiwary (23), chipped in well. Towards the end, Rajat Bhatia (13) lashed a couple of boundaries to boost the total.

Gambhir batted quite well though he could not dominate the bowling. A few flowing drives and well-timed hits marked his innings, but Knight Riders needed others to bat around him, and that did not happen.

The second half of the Knight Riders innings was rather disappointing as wickets fell in a heap with Rudra Pratap Singh picking up three cheap wickets as also Vinay Kumar who to his credit stuck to his task to come away with two for 36, including that of Kallis, who never quite looked assured during his brief stay.

At the start of the innings, Aussie seamer Moises Henriques impressed, first by removing the dangerous opener Manvinder Bisla in the very first over and then in his second spell, had the measure of Pathan who again disappointed after slamming Vinay Kumar for three consecutive boundaries.

The Royal Challengers' chase began on the wrong foot with opener Mayank Agarwal (6) falling in the third over, edging South African seamer Ryan McLaren to wicket-keeper Bisla.

The dismissal brought together the two in-form batsmen Gayle and Kohli, and the hosts enjoyed a period of ascendancy as also took the game away from Knight Riders much to the delight of the packed stands.

Kohli opened the fireworks with a series of shots and it was not long before Gayle joined the orgy of big hitting. McLaren was first to feel the heat as he went for 22 runs and later Pradeep Sangwan was struck for 19 as RCB raced along nicely.

However, the partnership was broken rather abruptly when Kohli holed out to McLaren in the deep off Lakshmipathy Balaji. Sparks flew in the middle as Kohli and his Delhi mate Gambhir had a verbal exchange as the two walked towards each other rather menacingly before being separated.

Thereafter, Gayle took control, smashing Kallis for 18 runs, including two sixes, and finished the game with two massive sixes off Balaji in the 18th over to ensure victory for Royal Challengers, their third in four matches.

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