Kolkata thrash hapless Royals
Richard Asher - SuperSport
Kolkata - The Kolkata Knight Riders shook off some determined Rajasthan Royals bowling to pick off their target of 82 and claim an eight-wicket win in their IPL match at Eden Gardens on Sunday evening.
Having comfortably chased 160 for an away win against the same opposition two days ago, it would have taken something special for the Knight Riders to stumble in pursuit of the third-lowest total in IPL history.
The Royals did their best to try and wreak the same sort of havoc they'd faced when they were dismissed for 81 after being put in to bat earlier in the evening, but not even the early wicket of Jacques Kallis and some tight, threatening bowling from Shaun Tait, Shane Watson and Shane Warne proved enough to trouble Kolkata.
Number three Knight Riders batsman Gautam Gambhir (35) was still there at the end of a mostly cautious run chase that Kolkata knew they could well afford.
The home team were just two down when they reached their target with a full seven overs to spare, with Kallis' opening partner Manvinder Bisla the only other Kolkata batsman to have been dismissed. Bisla was brilliantly caught by Abhishek Raut at short mid-wicket, but his diving effort wasn't nearly enough to truly trouble the Knight Riders.
Earlier, outstanding bowling from the Knight Riders helped the home side skittle the Royals for just 81.
The Royals were dismissed in just 15.2 overs after some excellent work from Lakshmipathy Balaji (who took 3/15 in three overs), Iqbal Abdulla (who took 1/18 and created a classy run out) and Shakib Al Hasan, who took two wickets in consecutive deliveries.
The stumps had to be reset regularly in the Rajasthan innings, as nine of their wickets were bowled, stumped or run-out.
Although the Kolkata bowlers and fielders all performed superbly, the visitors played their own part in their downfall. Two needless run-outs, both resulting from mix-ups, reduced them to 43/4 when they needed to recover from a shaky 28/2.
Royals danger batsman Watson, who opened the innings, was dismissed for just 11 when he was bowled by a beauty from Balaji.
His opening partner Amit Paunikar was then stumped for 15 after trying - and failing - to take on spinner Abdulla.
Then came the two run-outs, as Faiz Fazal and Abhishek Raut both got out cheaply. Fazal's was the result of some particularly good work by Abdulla, who pulled off a tough direct hit off his own bowling.
In-form Kiwi Ross Taylor could not rescue the innings, as he was smartly stumped by the sharp Kolkata wicketkeeper Bisla off the bowling of Yusuf Pathan.
Ajinkya Rahane lasted only nine balls before he played a poor shot to Balaji and was bowled in the 14th over to make it 78/6.
Number five Ashok Menaria was the last real hope for Rajasthan, but he too could do little to stop the slide. In fact, he was gone later that same over. He provided the only catch of the innings as he upper-cut Balaji to third man and had to go for 21. Remarkably, that made Menaria the top scorer for the Royals!
It also gave Balaji his third scalp and made him the pick of the Kolkata bowlers.
The Royals survived all of eight deliveries following Menaria’s loss, with the last three wickets proving easy work for the Knight Riders. Al Hasan bowled Amit Singh and Tait with consecutive arm balls, but the Bangladeshi couldn't get his hat-trick.
Opening bowler Brett Lee then returned to knock over the stumps of Siddharth Trivedi and end a miserable innings for the Royals.
Kolkata Knight Riders: JH Kallis, MS Bisla (wk), G Gambhir (capt), MK Tiwary, YK Pathan, EJG Morgan, Shakib Al Hasan, Iqbal Abdulla, R Bhatia, B Lee, L Balaji
Rajasthan Royals: SR Watson, AM Rahane, AL Menaria, LRPL Taylor, AG Paunikar (wk), AS Raut, SK Warne (capt), A Singh, SK Trivedi, SW Tait, FY Fazal