IPL7: Kolkata pass the test of mettle, make it to playoffs | india | Hindustan Times
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IPL7: Kolkata pass the test of mettle, make it to playoffs

The Knight Riders, lacking those big ticket names that make them look heavy on paper, made exactly that happen to ensure a playoff berth at their home ground.

india Updated: May 23, 2014 00:26 IST
Somshuvra Laha
cricket

In these heady days of fast-lane cricket, names like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and AB de Villiers inspire awe. A few of them in a T20 team and you feel the match is half won.

The Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore showed how right and wrong this assumption can be. Once in a while comes a team that upends predictions to steal a home run at the most unexpected juncture of the tournament.

The Knight Riders, lacking those big ticket names that make them look heavy on paper, made exactly that happen to ensure a playoff berth at their home ground. Also with that, they stretched their winning streak to an amazing six wins in a row.

Imperious batting
For a change though, KKR would be remembered for an imperious batting performance usually thought to be the bastion of the Kings XI or Chennai Super Kings. So when Virat Kohli invited Gautam Gambhir to bat after winning the toss, it actually was the perfect time for KKR to test their mettle. They passed, again.

Who were the architects? A batsman who always seems to stay on the fringes and a mercurial all-rounder who never got the attention he deserved possibly due to his country’s low stake in international cricket. So strong was their performance that it actually dwarfed Sunil Narine’s haul of 4/20.

Robin Uthappa and Shakib al Hasan started from where they had left on Tuesday and stitched 121 runs for the fourth wicket. It was a run riot that was planned and easy on the eyes. Shakib’s sixes weren’t as towering as Gayle’s, who hit none, but they served the purpose nevertheless. The way Shakib instigated Ashok Dinda to bowl a wide in the 18th over showed he can be a calm customer even during pressing times. Otherwise, he was at his brutal best, allowing Uthappa to flourish in his flamboyant way.

Like the six he hit off Yuzvendra Chahal, which was all about timing. Then of course were the sweeps, the odd reverse-sweep and drives that showed Uthappa’s confidence as a batsman on top of his game and also top of the scorers’ list now.

Chasing 195 is never easy. Against the bowling of KKR, the best in this IPL, it looked more like 225 by the time RCB could muster only 36 runs in the first six overs. Gayle was gone by then but the little known Yogesh Takawale fought.

Virat tried to make his presence felt but then this hasn’t been his tournament really. Left to Yuvraj and AB, they can win a team nine out of ten matches. But this was that tenth match.