The Kolkata Knight Riders came into Thursday's match looking to win big. In the end, they won with lots to spare despite chasing 170 against the Royal Challengers Bangalore here.
The nine-wicket win, following two straight losses, keeps the KKR alive in Champions League T20. The RCB were left on the brink, yet to win a game.
Australian wicketkeeper Brad Haddin, included in the side for the first time in this tournament, gave the early ballast needed to chase down a big total, scoring 42 off 27 with five fours and two sixes. Jacques Kallis (64 not out - 47 balls, 4x4, 1x6) anchored the innings again and Gautam Gambhir (55 not out - 32 balls, 3x4, 4x6) played his first significant innings since his injury comeback.
They added 109 off 62 balls. The way Gambhir middled the ball will give India fans a lot to cheer as they gear up for a busy international schedule.
Gambhir elected to bowl hoping he could keep RCB to a small total and chase it down quickly to improve his side's net run rate and boost the chances of making the semi-finals. However, poor bowling at the death saw that plan go awry.
The last five overs yielded 67 runs. Daniel Vettori played a captain's innings. Sometimes staying right back and sometimes moving to the leg-side to get inside the line or to the off to make room, Vettori smashed 44 off 23 balls with five fours and two sixes.
No. 8 Raju Bhatkal gave him good support with 25 off 18 after RCB were reduced to 91-6. KKR had leaked 94 runs in the last six overs against the South Australia Redbacks on way to a 19-run loss. This time, they almost appeared to be expecting it.
Their fielders were jittery. There were misfields and overthrows. The bowling lacked ideas.
Yet, till the 16th over, the Knight Riders had fought back well after surviving an early onslaught from Chris Gayle (25 from 16 balls, 3x6).
They did it by keeping their head and snatching most of the chances that came their way. The Royal Challengers top-order continued to throw away starts, a tendency that had cost them dear against the Warriors in the first match.