At least, Rahul Dravid got the pitch right but the batsmen would have had a lot to gripe about after an excruciating outing on a bone-dry track. It was painstakingly slow and obviously not the right advertisement of Twenty20 cricket, something the Indian Premier League would have looked forward
to a day after the Chennai Super Kings' thrilling chase of 205.
Rajasthan Royals captain Rahul Dravid disappointed as winning KKR's captain Gautam Gambhir looks on after their IPL 5 match in Kolkata. PTI Photo by Swapan Mahapatra
The Kolkata Knight Riders emerged winners but it was hardly a blaze to glory. The runs were as precious as gold as the batsmen were forced to give up their aggression. The spinners though had a chuckle or two.
Shakib Al Hasan showed his all-round talent, tossing and turning the ball before being useful with the bat.
Slow but not steady
In order to break free, Dravid danced down the pitch twice to slog Jacques Kallis while Ajinkya Rahane swept and caressed Sunil Narine to the boundary. But the ball was already gripping and Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir quickly deployed spin from both ends.
Shakib dismissed Rahane off his first delivery in the seventh over and then tempted Dravid with his flight, inducing an easy catch to Manoj Tiwary at short cover.
Consolidation was required and both Shreevats Goswami and Owais Shah did exactly that. But launching into the bowling looked easier than it seemed, with the field spread out and the batsmen given no space at all.
Rajat Bhatia though was a bit generous in providing them with a lot of width and ended up conceding 16 runs in what proved to be the costliest over of the Rajasthan Royals' innings. But Gambhir put the brakes on, and Rajasthan's innings never really took off.
Not quite over
But it was enough encouragement for the Royals. When it was their turn to bowl, the Royals were equally mean and made the Knight Riders earn every run.
Johan Botha immediately started to extract alarming turn while old horse Brad Hogg straightaway settled into a leg-stump line. In between, Ankeet Chavan impressed too but a risky single led to Gambhir's dismissal.
Kallis was patient in compiling 31 but fell trying to sweep Botha. It required Manoj Tiwary to hit a towering six to get the Knight Riders back in the game, but he too perished in a moment of madness and Hogg got some initiative back for the Royals.
Shakib's flat six and Yusuf Pathan's four helped release the pressure before Ryan ten Doeschate hoicked one that ended both the teams' misery.