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Emphatic win for Knight Riders

S. Sabanayakan

Balaji's three-wicket haul lays Rajasthan Royals low

Photo: PTI

Kolkata Knight Riders had an easy night out after its bowlers bundled out against Rajasthan Royals for a paltry total. —

KOLKATA: It is celebration time in Kolkata as Knight Riders registered a thumping eight-wicket victory over Rajasthan Royals in the return match of the IPL-IV at the Eden Gardens.

The home team, choosing to field, dismissed Royals for 81 in 15.2 overs, the lowest so far this season. Recovering from two early wickets, KKR won with 6.1 overs to spare in a lopsided game.

Captain Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary remained unbeaten on 35 and 30 runs respectively to guide the team to victory. Lakshmipathy Balaji was adjudged the Man-of-the-match for his three for 15.

Brilliant bowling by the home team was the key to this easy win. One could be tempted to say that the Royals batsmen failed to apply to the task but then the KKR bowlers were spot on.

With an asking rate of a little over 4, KKR lost its dependable opener Jacques Kallis to the second ball of the innings as he played a half-hearted shot. Ross Taylor took the skier almost in front of the batsman. After Gambhir and Manvinder Bisla added 31 runs, the later fell to a brilliant diving catch by Abhishek Raut at mid-wicket.

Gambhir and Tiwary were circumspect to start with and slowly dug themselves in but Tiwary plundered 17 runs off Shaun Tait's fourth over (team's 14th) before Gambhir guided the next ball to the third-man fence for the winning runs.

KKR won the toss and asked Royals to bat on humid day. , watched by a good crowd of about 45,000. The Rajasthan team began promisingly with Shane Watson and Amit Paunikar. The Aussie, coming from a fabulous series against Bangladesh, was in command with some flowing shots before Balaji produced a superb delivery that knocked his stumps. The opening pair put on 24 runs in 3.4 overs.

The KKR attack, with the introduction of Iqbal Abdulla, made things quiet. The left-armer tasted success soon getting Paunikar stumped by Bisla for the addition of only four runs.

From here, KKR's ascendancy began. For the addition of another 10 runs, Faiz Fazal, who came in for an injured Rahul Dravid, was run out as the bowler showed tremendous alacrity throwing down the non-striker's wicket off his own bowling.

Another five runs later, Abhishek Raut became the second victim of a run out this time failing to beat a Shakib-al Hasan throw to the wicketkeeper. Left-handed Ashok Menaria, a natural stroke player, and Ross Taylor began to repair the damage with some sensible batting. and added 24 runs for the fifth wicket.

Gambhir introduced Yusuf Pathan from the pavilion end and the offie tasted immediate success when he had Taylor stumped off a ball that drifted down the leg stump and moved further brushing the batsman's pad. Bisla was quick into the position to bring off a smart stumping.

Ajinkya Rahane, who replaced Nayan Doshi, was beaten and bowled by a Balaji delivery that kept a bit low. From 78 for six RR lost five wickets for four runs to be all out for 81 in 15.2 overs.

Balaji was at it again dismissing Menaria for 21, the highest individual score of the innings, when the 20-year-old tried to play a short ball over the third man but ended up in the safe hands of Rajat Bhatia.

Shakib struck in the next over, the team's 15th, as he bowled Amit Singh and Shaun Tait, a replacement for Johan Botha, off successive balls. Siddharth Trivedi denied the left-arm spinner the coveted hat-trick but Lee, coming on the next over, bowled Siddharth Trivedi to bring the curtain down on the innings.

Apart from Balaji, Shakib had two for 21 in three. Brett Lee, Abdulla and Yusuf shared the other three.

Rajasthan Royals: S. Watson b Balaji 11 ( 13b, 2x4), A. Paunikar st Bisla b Abdulla 15 ( 15b, 2x4), F. Fazal (run out) 3 ( 4b), A. Raut (run out) 11 ( 15b, 1x4), A. Menaria c Bhatia b Balaji 21 ( 17b, 1x4, 1x6), R. Taylor st Bisla b Yusuf 6 ( 9b), A. Rahane b Balaji 6 ( 9b), S. Warne (not out) 3 ( 6), Amit Singh b Shakib 0 ( 2b), S. Tait b Shakib 0 ( 1b), S. Trivedi b Lee 0 ( 2b); Extras (lb-1, w-3, nb-1) 5; Total (in 15.2 overs): 81.

Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-28, 3-38, 4-43, 5-67, 6-78, 7-79, 8-80, 9-80.

Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Lee 2.2-0-12-1, Shakib 4-0-21-2, Balaji 3-0-15-3, Abdulla 3-0-18-1, Bhatia 1-0-4-0, Yusuf 2-0-10-1.

Kolkata Knight Riders: J. Kallis c Taylor b Tait 0 ( 2b), M. Bisla c Raut b Warne 9 ( 22b), G. Gambhir (not out) 35 ( 35b, 3x4), M. Tiwary (not out) 30 ( 26, 4x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-4, w-5, nb-2) 11; Total (for two wkts. in 13.5 overs): 85.

Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-31.

Rajasthan Royals bowling: Tait 3.5-0-29-1, Watson 4-0-20-0, Warne 4-0-17-1, Trivedi 1-0-8-0, Amit Singh 1-0-7-0.

Man-of-the-Match: L. Balaji .

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