Ranchi: Kolkata Knight Riders kept their slim IPL 6 play-off hopes alive beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by five wickets in a low-scorer at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium here on Sunday. Jacques Kallis, after picking up two wickets, made an important 41 as the hosts chased down 116 in 19.2 overs to register their sixth win in 14 matches. Bangalore, on the other hand, suffered their sixth defeat in 14 matches.
In pursuit of a small total on a tricky wicket, Kolkata got off to a bad start losing Manvinder Bisla for a duck off the second ball of their innings. Things could have been worse for the hosts had Abhimanyu Mithun not misjudged a skier off the bat of Kallis at fine leg in the third over. Gambhir piled on Mithun's agony in the next over, picking up three back-to-back boundaries as the bowler strayed outside the offstump of the Kolkata captain. However, Mithun breathed a big sigh of relief when Vinay Kumar sent back Gambhir for 14 in the sixth over as the batsman edged one straight through to Chris Gayle in the slips.
Kallis and Yusuf Pathan shored up the Kolkata chase adding 30 off 28 balls before the latter was trapped lbw by Murali Kartik for 18 with 61 runs on the board in 10.3 overs. Jacques continued on with his patient batting and took the team to very close to the target before he holed out to Moises Henriques off Mithun with 20 more needed to win. However, Tiwary's wicket for 24 in the next over provided some late twist to the tale. That was all as Ryan ten Doeschate (13*) and Rajat Bhatia (3*) thereafter played with great caution to take their team over the line.
Earlier after being put into bat, Bangalore openers Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara started off on the wrong foot with only 15 runs coming off 26 balls. In an attempt to up the ante, Pujara, eyeing clearing the infield, gave a simple catch to Laxmipathy Balaji at cover for five. Virat Kohli joined Gayle and things brightened up for the visitors - but just a little. Both added 31 off 24 balls before Kohli, who scored 99 in the last match against Delhi Daredevils, played on for 17 off the bowling of Kallis.
Not much changed with the arrival of AB de Villiers as scoring became more difficult with the ball getting old. The oppressive Ranchi heat and tiredness finally got to Gayle, who in a bizarre fashion got stumped off the bowling of fellow West Indian Sunil Narine for an uncharacteristic 33 off 36 balls that saw him regain the Orange Cap with 603 runs. The arguably two best T20 players in the world, surprisingly, could only add 24 off 27 balls for the third wicket.
The arrival of Henriques brought a good omen for the visitors as he and de Villiers started picking up boundaries. Just when de Villiers looked set for big runs, a shot that has given the South African plenty of runs in this format didn't turn out right: a reverse paddle off Balaji went straight through to wicketkeeper Bisla. De Villiers made 28 off 22 balls adding 25 off 16 with Henriques.
Saurabh Tiwary's stay was as brief as they come as Narine trapped him lbw for one, and then Bangalore's hope of a decent total took a massive beating as Henriques, in a moment of indiscretion, holed out to Manoj at long-on for 11 off the bowling of Kallis. Thereafter the Kolkata bowlers took complete control of the proceedings restricting the visitors to 115 for 9. Narine, who took two more in the 19th over, finished with figures of 4 for 22, wresting the Purple Cap from Chennai Super Kings allrounder Dwayne Bravo with 22 wickets. Balaji and Kallis took 2 for 22 and 2 for 17 respectively.
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