The Knight Riders battled hard across their Indian Premier League clash against the Kings XI Punjab to ultimately come up trumps in Kolkata on Saturday.
Served a dry, low and slow pitch at Eden Gardens, home captain Gautam Gambhir had no hesitation in bowling first upon winning the toss and enjoyed early vindication as spinner Yusuf Pathan got rid of Paul Valthaty, who earlier in the tournament smashed the third fastest century in the history of the IPL, for just seven.
With the danger man gone, the introduction of left-arm slow bowler Iqbal Abdulla (two for 19) working a treat for the hosts, and three run-outs to blame for the visitors’ gradual demise, anything beyond 100 was going to be a tough ask of the Kings XI Punjab.
Were it not for Dinesh Karthik’s measured 42 and later David Hussey and Bipul Sharma’s collective residence toward the tail of the knock, a sub-100 tally surely would’ve greeted Gilchrist’s men. The Australian recruit and his Indian sidekick struck 15 and 16 not out respectively, with both knocks entirely riddled with miscued hacks in the trying conditions.
Such was the dogged nature of the track, the Punjab innings produced just 11 fours and a lone six as the batsmen-friendly tournament coughed up a rare low-scoring anomaly.
Subjected to the same pedestrian deck, Kolkata’s modest pursuit was made all the more easier after newfound opening batsman Eoin Morgan lopped a quick 28 runs off the meagre target.
Bhargav Bhatt (two for 22) tried his utmost to stave off the inevitable with the early removal of Jacques Kallis and the eventual scalp of Morgan, whose quest for just the second six of the day had him hole out on the midwicket fence.
Seamers Ryan Harris and Praveen Kumar were rendered veritable non-entities as Gilchrist deployed as many as five spinners, the bulk of which performed admirably, yet didn’t have enough in the tank to thwart Gambhir’s victory charge.
The host skipper, with Manoj Tiwary under his wing in their unbroken 85-run alliance, swept, nurdled, nudged and tweaked his way through a measured 45 not out, leaving his occasionally impatient team-mate to a couple of lusty blows en route to an unbeaten 34.
The asking rate was nominal, so there was no cause for risk from the duo and a string of safe singles – and the odd boundary – duly saw the Knight Riders to victory with 16 deliveries to spare.
Saturday’s win rose Kolkata to the helm of the 10-team standings, while Gilchrist and company are left wallowing in eighth position. Agencies