The wait continued. The first was for swashbuckling West Indian opener Chris Gayle to make an appearance in the middle for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and get them off to a flying start like he did on so many occasions last season. The other was for Kolkata Knight Riders skipper and opener Gautam Gambhir who was yet to get off the mark in this tournament.
Gayle had missed the first two matches and he missed his third on Thursday, laid low by a back sprain. Gambhir was dismissed first ball, caught plumb in front by a late swinging ball from Mitchell Starc. Gambhir thus completed a hattrick of ducks.
The in-form Manish Pandey was dismissed in the second over of the innings and Kolkata Knight Riders put into bat on a belter of a wicket, looked like throwing in the towel early. But the ever dependable Jacques Kallis and Australian Chris Lynn, making his IPL debut in place of Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan, came to their rescue. First with the bat scoring 45 off 31 and then in the final over of the match with RCB needing nine runs to win, dismissing the dangerous AB de Villiers with a spectacular catch on the rope.
That and some very intelligent bowling by R Vinay Kumar in the last over helped KKR to a two-run win, their second victory in three matches in the tournament.
Kallis and Lynn stitched together an 80-run stand for the third wicket in quick time to take the KKR runrate to more than 8 at the half-way mark. Muttiah Muralitharan, playing in his first match this season, was greeted with two massive sixes by the Australian and the one off the first ball actually hit the giant screen which was still showing Murali’s picture and career stats introducing him at the beginning of his spell. Robin Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav chipped in after that and KKR posted 150.
The chase did not look threatening. RCB it seemed had decided to see off Sunil Narine, KKR’s bowling spearhead, and they would still have the firepower in their batting lineup to ease to victory. They did as much. Narine returned with figures of 4-0-17-1, the wicket of the dangerous and dependable Virat Kohli to show for. The others were attacked and successfully till suddenly in the final over needing 9 for victory pressure set in.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Parthiv Patel, Virat Kohli (capt), Yuvraj Singh, A B de Villiers, Albie Morkel, Ashok Dinda, Yogesh Takawale, Mitchell Starc, Yuzvendra Chahal, Varun Aaron, Muttiah Muralitharan
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Jacques Kallis, Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Chris Lynn, Suryakumar Yadav, R Vinay Kumar, Sunil Narine, Morne Morkel, Umesh Yadav.