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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Cricket

Clashing captains, smashing Gayle
Somshuvra Laha, Hindustan Times
Bangalore, April 11, 2013
First Published: 16:31 IST(11/4/2013)
Last Updated: 00:36 IST(12/4/2013)
Royal Challengers Bangalore's Virat Kohli dives to stop the ball during T20 match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengalore. (PTI)

Cricket's a gentleman's game right? Not quite. It's not for boys, but men, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir asserted and reasserted after a jolting defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Thursday.

The loss, or the crushing effect Chris Gayle had on the defending champions with another blazing knock should have been the talking point but an impulsive act of naked aggression from two champion players from Delhi ensured everything else was swept aside.

It seemed a normal dismissal alright --- Virat Kohli holing out Balaji to Eoin Morgan at sweeper cover and walking towards the dugout.

Suddenly he stopped and turned around in a bid to confront Gambhir, who too charged towards Kohli. But their Delhi team mate Rajat Bhatia rushed in to intervene in the nick of time to avoid a potential all-Delhi clash.

Words were flying around, and they sure shook hands after the match but that didn't prevent match referee David Boon from reprimanding them and issue an official warning to both.

Gambhir wasn't too keen on elaborating. "What? Nothing happened. If you want to really know what happened go ask him (Kohli)," said a composed Gambhir.

Sheen off win
It took the sheen off a thumping win by RCB against the defending champions. More importantly, it almost ruined Gayle's party.

And what a party it was! Out of the 85 runs he scored off 50 balls, 70 came in fours and sixes. And as is his style, Gayle struck more sixes (6) than fours (4).

KKR would have known they had come up short of the expected total. Gambhir was a lone act, guiding his team with a courageous 59 but too many wickets fell at regular intervals after the 13 over mark.

Jacques Kallis's poor form continued and even Manoj Tiwary, who had a promising start, gave away his wicket. Same was the case with Yusuf Pathan, who showed glimpses of the form that prompted KKR to buy him for a hefty price but flattered to deceive.

Death bowling
What also went in favour of RCB was the how Vinay Kumar and RP Singh bowled at the death, stump-to-stump, giving away nothing. They conceded just 31 runs in the last four overs between themselves. Half the battle was won there.

For the rest of the game, Gayle took it upon himself to finish.

But Gambhir might have played into his hands much before his onslaught when he opted for a pace-heavy attack without the experience of Brett Lee on a pitch that encouraged stroke-making. Gayle anyway was aiming for the galleries of the Chinnaswamy stadium.

Expensive
A bigger blunder possibly was blooding Pradeep Sangwan and Ryan McLaren in a match of this intensity.

Both went for plenty in their very first overs. That had a cascading effect on even a veteran like Balaji who erred in line, leaving Gambhir little option but to wait for the misery to end.

The only exception was Sunil Narine who RCB played out. Rajat Bhatia too was underutilised, being introduced only in the 17th over.

By then Gayle had already ensured Kohli would return home with a smile and Gambhir with lots to ponder.


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