Bangalore: Brett Lee sledged, Gautam Gambhir sighed in agony, and the crowd lapped it up in delight as Chris Gayle's brutal cameo obliterated the below-par target set by Kolkata Knight Riders in a rain-hit game in Bangalore. Though the chase went into the final over, and Royal Challengers Bangalore lost a few quick wickets in the end, Gayle's 12-ball 38 had effectively killed the contest in just 2.4 overs of the chase. With the win, Bangalore made it seven victories on the trot and qualified for the playoffs.
Though Gayle dealt them the final blow, it was Kolkata's batting, which bordered on over-aggression, and the rain, that reduced the game to a 13-over contest, that really cost them the game. Kolkata were 69 for 3 in 11 overs when rain left them with only two more overs to bat, and they reached 89 for 4. Bangalore were set a Duckworth/Lewis adjusted target of 102 and Gayle's blitz ensured they could soak up the loss of quick wickets and reach the target.
The first over of the chase perfectly caught Gayle's fury and Kolkata's disappointment: Edge. Blast. Sledge. Edge. Crash. Gayle edged the first delivery to the third man boundary, crashed the second over cover, dug out a screaming yorker next - Lee sledged at this point, collected a four with a top-edged pull off the fifth ball and walloped the fifth to the cover-point boundary.
Kolkata's troubles didn't end with that 16-run over, for Jaidev Unadkat was looted for 23 in the next over. Luke Pomersbach, who replaced Tillakaratne Dilshan, started with a square-cut boundary before Gayle took over. He top-edged a six over third man before launching the next delivery on to the second tier of the stand beyond long-on. Although Gayle fell, top-edging a Lee delivery to Kallis, he had put Bangalore on course. They lost a few wickets in the end but there was never any danger of them losing their way.
It was with their batting that Kolkata lost the game. Sometimes, you can get over-aggressive. Sometimes, you need to shift to a Plan B but Kolkata seemed too eager to dominate. In their attempt to attack, they perhaps crossed the line. Even Jacques Kallis was nearly slogging and heaving at deliveries. Gautam Gambhir went too hard at deliveries and Eoin Morgan tried to cut nearly every delivery he faced. The result? They were reduced to 30 for 3 in the sixth over. They recovered to reach 69 for 3 in 11 overs but then rain soaked the playing arena. A long wait ensued and the game was restricted to 13 overs upon resumption.
Bangalore did everything right; they attacked relentlessly and suffocated the batsmen. They hurled down the bouncers, slipped in the occasional yorker, they got the ball to swing and seam a bit and always attacked. Eoin Morgan couldn't get Zaheer Khan away and fell, charging out and flicking straight to midwicket. Jacques Kallis was intent on playing the big shots and he fell, edging an attempted heave off Charl Langeveldt. Bangalore's change-up bowlers, Abimanyu Mithun and S Aravind, too kept it really tight and Bangalore's sharp fielding did its bit in keeping Kolkata in check. When Gambhir tried to break free with a cut, AB de Villiers lunged to his left at backward point to take a sharp chance. It was left to Yusuf Pathan to give Kolkata a decent total but it didn't prove enough.