After ‘fighting’ for three IPL seasons and failing each time, all Kolkata Knight Riders are hungry to win. And that is clearly visible in the intensity with which they have started the season. The last gasp defeat to champions Chennai Super Kings has not affect the side that has won the next two games.
On Friday, new skipper Gautam Gambhir and the rock-solid Jacques Kallis were too good as they rolled aside hosts Rajasthan Royals by nine wickets. A team missing their favourite left-handed batsman found another as Gambhir lashed a 44-ball 75 not out — 50 of them in boundaries — while Kallis was unconquered on 80, their stand worth 152.
The Royals began a slow but steady build-up and when they put up 159 for four, they would have been confident it was competitive. The inclusion of Australian all-rounder Shane Watson would have further added to their self-belief.
Chasing on a wicket that wasn't particularly batsmen-friendly, the Knight Riders lost their first wicket with just eight runs on the board; and it appeared the Royals' record of winning whenever they posted more than 145 would remain safe. In the end, that was the only success for the home team.
Promoting himself to No. 3, Gambhir, displaying superb footwork, joined hands with Kallis and gave fans back in Kolkata much to celebrate on the Bengali New Year day. Some lusty blows later, the visitors were home with 10 balls to spare.
High on drama
With 28 required from as many balls, Royals finally thought they had found a breakthrough when Gambhir pulled a short one from Siddharth Trivedi to be caught by Johan Botha at deep midwicket. Just when the Royals started to celebrate, umpire Aleem Dar signalled a no ball. Reason? There were only three fielders inside the 30-yard circle, one less than mandatory.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan too had his moment after being drafted into the side by KKR for his first game; he bowled the national team's recent tormentor Watson and gestured ‘finished’.