Three summers ago, a Delhi rivalry had revealed its nasty side in a faceoff between Kolkata and Bangalore. Expletives and finger wagging made it such an ugly affair that even umpires had a tough time separating Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli.
Last season, there was another flare-up on the sidelines. This time, the world watched Gambhir kick his chair as KKR raced to a thumping victory at the Chinnaswamy Stadium. For better or worse, the sight of each other gets something extra out of Kohli and Gambhir.
The animosity aside, Gambhir has been able to use this ‘extra’ bit well for the team’s cause. It was his 37 that had set up KKR’s difficult chase of 185. This time too, he gave the team the start they required but couldn’t go all the way.
Like in their previous fixture, Robin Uthappa fell cheaply too, trying to do many things against Iqbal Abdullah who showed the gumption to toss the ball up. But Gambhir kept his foot on the gas by whipping Stuart Binny through covers in the first over. Next over, Sreenath Aravind was gently flicked away for another boundary.
When on song, Gambhir is a brilliant combination of soft hands and whippy action. He was not backing out from the short-pitched stuff too, as Shane Watson found out when his attempted bouncer was pulled over deep square-leg boundary with disdain. Special however was the assault reserved for Yuzvendra Chahal, RCB’s most consistent bowler in recent matches. After Manish Pandey swept Chahal for a six over deep-midwicket, Gambhir read his googly so early that he had no problem lofting him over cover for a four. Next delivery, Gambhir made space and cut Chahal so fiercely that the fielder at point had no chance.
Gambhir’s resourcefulness showed in the way he reached his fifty from 39 by not hitting a boundary. The intensity didn’t drop though as by that time, Pandey too had come to the party. What Gambhir missed out on though was his communication skills. He even got a life when Chris Jordan’s throw went to the wrong end after he was stranded ball-watching on what was a good call for a single by Pandey.
Next time though, RCB made no mistake about which end to target. Luckily for KKR however, Pandey picked up from where Gambhir had left off to keep them assured of a good total.