Kolkata:It was a lottery of a game and one Bangalore Royal Challengers should have won. Instead, they paced their chase poorly, leaving too much to do too late, and handed Kolkata Knight Riders a five-run win in a rain-hit game.
The showers late in the evening made this Eden Gardens fixtures a 16-overs per side match. Surprisingly, Kolkata chose to bat and played ordinarily for their 129-7. But Bangalore were worse. It all came down to 40 needed from the last 18 balls. Ishant Sharma delivered 12 of those at fiery pace, and conceded just 17 to settle matters.
Kolkata's fielders were on the button. Brad Hodge's spectacular dive-stop-throw-hit at point caught J Arunkumar short of his crease. Also breathtaking was Tatenda Taibu's fielding, as well as their captain Sourav Ganguly's spell of 3-0-7-1. His dibbly dobblies tied Rahul Dravid down, luring the Challengers skipper into a risky paddle sweep leaving his stumps exposed. Ganguly, who was chuffed with the wicket, took the man of the match award for his effort.
One would think Kolkata were disadvantaged by their decision to bat first. In a rain-shortened game, you never know what's a good score. Bangalore had the opportunity to prepare and pace their pursuit. But their start botched it all up.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul (7 from 11 balls), J Arunkumar (22 from 17) and, finally, captain Dravid (5 from 11) struggled to break free. The mounting run-rate left too much to do for the beleaguered Mark Boucher (50 off 40) and Cameron White (30 from 16).
The pitch was an improvement on the two-paced ones that Eden had seen in recent times. Bangalore's Dale Steyn and Zaheer Khan hit the deck hard. Steyn's four spirited overs fetched him 3-27 and he also inflicted one of the two run outs in the innings, with a screaming throw from short fine leg that caught the dangerous David Hussey short.
Kolkata too had struggled to move on. Except for Hussey, who struck three sixes in his 26, their innings never threatened to gather momentum. Hussey, having tonked Anil Kumble for two sixes in the ninth over, ran himself out to Steyn's powerful throw off the over's final ball.
Steyn claimed Aakash Chopra, making his IPL debut, caught plumb in front. The South Africa spearhead then bounced out Tatenda Taibu, and then got the free-stroking Laxmi Ratan Shukla to chop on.
The first run out was Ganguly's. He was caught unawares while taking a single as White swooped in from midwicket and threw down the single stump he could see at the bowler's end. While he impressed with the ball on Thursday night, Ganguly has had an ordinary tournament with the bat. His tally reads 116 runs from 7 outings, at an average of 16.57.
The Kolkata tail combined to hit 41 from the last four overs to pip them just over the eight runs an over mark. In the end, it was just about enough.