Kolkata: Threat turned into nightmare as Royal Challengers Bangalore kept on course for a playoff berth with a nine-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Monday.
Needing to win their last four games, RCB have now ticked two boxes, Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers again flaunting destructive form as KKR's 183 was chased down with eight balls to spare. The two had demolished Gujarat Lions in Bangalore a couple of nights ago with a partnership of 229 off 98.
Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli plays a brilliant shot through the off-side against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens on Monday. Pic/AFP
Kohli remained unbeaten on a 51-ball 75 while De Villiers got his 59 in 31 balls, each helping himself to five boundaries and three sixes. The only wicket to fall was that of Chris Gayle, who came into his own at last to score 49 off 31 with five fours and four sixes.
KKR, who need another win to confirm a berth in the playoffs, will have to wait.
Half-centuries by Gautam Gambhir and Manish Pandey, and an Andre Russell-powered finish had KKR post a challenging total. After Gambhir and Pandey had put on 76 in 49 deliveries, Russel and Shakib Al Hasan had them overcome a mid-innings slowdown prompted by fall of wickets. Their unfinished association yielded 58 off 28 deliveries.
Kohli had won a good toss, having KKR plunge into the pressure of putting runs on the board. Up against the batting powerhouse of IPL-9, Gambhir & Co. would've wonder how much was enough, even as RCB's non-delivering attack was spared the job of stifling a run-chase.
Mumbai spinner Iqbal Abdulla, a former Knight, struck in his first over as Robin Uthappa closed the bat-face early to give a return-catch. It triggered KKR's best partnership as new-man Manish Pandey and skipper Gambhir made good use of the powerplay fielding restrictions. The rollicking partnership, which yielded 76 runs in 49 deliveries, ended on the second mid-pitch mix-up between the two. Gambhir had hit 51 off 34 dceliveries by then, and his wicket triggered a slide of sorts. Pandey (50 off 35 with five fours and a couple of sixes), Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav left in quick succession, and it was left to Russell (39 nout out in 19 balls with two fours and three sixes) and Shakib (18 not out off 11 with one four and one six) to ensure a challenging total.
The reply began on an ominous note as Gayle, coming into the match with just 19 runs from five outings, found his bearings, lofting the bowlers for those signature sixes or smashing boundaries. Kohli was happy to play the second fiddle. But not for long.
Dropped on 32 at backward point by Gambhir, he was soon into that partnership with De Villiers. It was worth 115, and came off just 67 balls. The threat had come good.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 183/5 (Gautam Gambhir 51, Manish Pandey 50; Sreenath Aravind 2/41) vs Royal Challengers Bangalore: 186/1 (Virat Kohli 75, AB de Villiers 59)