Kolkata vault to top of table with win over Rajasthan

Kolkata Knight Riders celebrate a wicket.

By Suneer Chowdhary

Kolkata: Apr 17, 2011

It needed a minefield for Rajasthan to have a chance of defending 82. And even then, they would have probably found it improbable.

In the end, on a hot and a humid evening at Kolkata, the Royals were crushed by eight wickets with 37 balls to spare. Kolkata had won their third game in a row and had catapulted to the top of the table, being the only side with three wins so far.

Rajasthan had lost their second successive game in a row, and to the Knight Riders again.

It was not a cakewalk by any stretch of imagination. Shaun Tait dismissed Jacques Kallis off the very second ball of the innings and Manvinder Bisla, the other opener, found the going very tough.

The first boundary of the innings came only in the fourth over when Gautam Gambhir pulled Shane Watson to the fence. That, however, turned out to be the only one of the field-restriction overs.

Kolkata were 26 for one after the six overs before Warne had the tortured Bisla dismissed for nine he had taken up 22 balls to get there. With two wickets down and only 31 on the board in seven overs, there may just have been a few jitters but Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary smoothened the creases away.

The runs were at a very high premium but with an asking rate as low as it was, that was never a problem. And with Shane Watson, Warne and Tait bowling 11 of the 12 overs, it meant that there weren t too many to come from the premier bowlers remaining.

Tiwary smacked a couple of boundaries and a six in the 14th over from Tait to lead the team to an easy win in the end. Gambhir remained unbeaten on 35 while Tiwary scored 30.

Kolkata went into the game unchanged while Rajasthan got in Ajinkya Rahane, Shaun Tait and Faiz Fazal in place of Nayan Doshi and the injured Rahul Dravid and Johan Botha.

The Rajasthan Royals were put into bat by Kolkata captain Gambhir. With Watson having been sent back to his rightful opening position, the Royals were off to a reasonable start, with both the openers hitting a boundary each in the second over.

Laxmipathy Balaji was also hit to the fence by Watson, who looked to be getting into the groove but a delivery that pitched on the middle and took off towards the other side, dislodged the bail. Watson fell for 11 and that was the beginning of the collapse.

Then, the other opening batsman, Amit Paunikar was stumped off Iqbal Abdulla, before the bowler ran Faiz Fazal out to reduce the side to 38 for three.

Abhishek Raut hasn t had an opportunity to bat in this tournament despite being a part of the 11, but when he did, he squandered it away to a run-out.

Taylor walked out at number six position, a rather surprising move given that he is one of the better batsmen in the side. The move backfired when he was stumped for six.

With half the side dismissed for 67, the bottom half fared much worse. Both, Balaji and Shakib al Hasan captured a couple of wickets in a single over that they sent down before Lee rounded things off in the 16th over. Rajasthan were bowled out for 81, the third-lowest IPL score ever.

Brief Scores: RR 81 all out in 15.1 overs (Ashok Menaria 21; Lakshmipathy Balaji 3 for 15, Shakib Al Hasan 2 for 21) lost to KKR 85 for 2 in 13.5 overs (Gautam Gambhir 35*, Manoj Tiwary 30*; Shane Warne 1 for 17) by 8 wickets.

Man of the Match: Lakshmipathy Balaji

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)

Pictures AFP