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Bangalore back to winning ways

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: April 29, 2009 20:34 IST
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- Scorecard

Bangalore Royal Challengers held their nerve well in the closing stages to edge past Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in one of the most lacklustre matches in the Indian Premier League, in Durban, on Wednesday.

Chasing 140 for victory, Bangalore got off to a good start, courtesy Sreevats Goswami's solid 43 from 46 deliveries and Jacques Kallis's 23, the two putting on 69 runs.

Mark Boucher then smashed 25 from 13 deliveries at the fag end of the match to seal victory with one delivery to spare.

Earlier, Kolkata found the going difficult against the Bangalore side and were restricted by their spinners to a modest 139 for six in their 20 overs. Spin was the order of the day for Bangalore, as they employed four spinners, who bowled 15 overs, on a dry Kingsmead pitch that provided some assistance to the slower bowlers. Veteran Anil Kumble was the star of the spin show, taking two wickets for 16 runs in his four overs

Debutant Morne van Wyk's unbeaten innings of 43 from 35 deliveries and Chris Gayle 40 lent some respectability to the Kolkata side's total as the rest of the batting failed to deliver.

Kolkata innings

Electing to bat in the battle between cellar teams, captain Brendon McCullum's woes continued as he fell to the first delivery of the match, while former captain Sourav Ganguly could score just 1.

Bangalore captain Kevin Pietersen, in his last game in the IPL, sprang a surprise by deciding to bowl himself in the first over. With three frontline spinners in his squad, the former England skipper commenced proceedings. And the move worked wonders immediately, as he struck with the first delivery of the match.

McCullum cut a short delivery straight from Pietersen to Virat Kohli at point and continued his poor run of scores in the tournament. (0-1, 0.1)

McCullum has now scored 1, 21, 3, 1 and 0 for a tally of 26 runs in five innings in the tournament. One wonders how long the Kolkata side's management will persist with the New Zealander at the helm?

South Africa's left-arm spinner Roelof van der Merwe was handed the ball for the second over. After scoring just three runs from the opening over, Gayle decided to take on Van der Merwe and hammered two boundaries.

Pietersen went for 10 in his third over before deciding to bring in pace in the form of Pankaj Singh. Immediately Australian Brad Hodge went after the fast bowler, hitting a six and couple of boundaries that also brought up his 2000 runs in Twenty20 cricket.

Kumble, introduced in the sixth over, immediately got into the act when he trapped Hodge leg before wicket for 17 (15 deliveries) with a faster delivery that went straight on. (45-2, 5.5)

Both Ganguly and Gayle were bogged down by the Bangalore slow bowlers and suddenly runs dried up.

Things didn't improve when Ganguly hit a short delivery from Praveen Kumar straight to the square leg fielder. The left-hander scored just one from eight deliveries as Kolkata again found themselves in trouble at 54 for three in the eighth over. (54-3, 8.3)

It was turning out to be a struggle even though Gayle was still at the crease as Kolkata reached 61 for three in 10 overs.

Bangalore introduced their fourth spinner in the form of KP Apanna in the 12th over and even he enjoyed instant success. Gayle tried a huge heave through midwicket but Sreevats Goswami held a fine running catch to send back the left-hander after he scored 40 from 37 deliveries, including six boundaries. (70-4, 11.2)

A few quiet overs followed as Kolkata posted 94 for four after 15 before Wriddhiman Saha decided to break the shackles. He danced down the wicket to Appana and carted the left-arm spinner for a huge six through midwicket in the 16th over.

However, Saha fell in Kumble's next over when he was caught off a top edge attempting a sweep shot. He scored 21 from 14 deliveries, adding 40 runs in 5.1 overs for the fifth wicket with newcomer Morne van Wyk. (110-5, 16.3)

It was Kumble's second wicket in his final over; the veteran leg-spinner finished with impressive figures of two for 16 in four overs.

Debutant Van der Merwe then claimed his first wicket in the IPL when he trapped Laxmi Ratan Shukla leg before wicket for 2 as Kolkata's innings continued to deteriorate. (118-6, 17.4)

South Africa's Twenty20 specialist Van Wyk hit Kumar for two consecutive boundaries through the fine leg region to bring cheer to the Kolkata fans in the 19th over. He finished unbeaten on 44 from 35 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries, as Kolkata ended up with 139 for six in their 20 overs.

It was a spin show all the way with spinners bowling 15 of the 20 overs and claiming five of the six wickets to fall.

Kumble was easily the best bowler with figures of two for 16 in four overs, while Pietersen (1 for 24), Van der Merwe (1 for 29) and Appanna (1 for 30) chipped in with vital wickets.

Kolkata must be disappointed that the batsmen wasted too many deliveries and did not rotate strike even when the boundaries were not coming. They had 44 dots and 52 singles, while hitting 12 boundaries and only two sixes.

Bangalore innings:

McCullum decided to give Van Wyk the gloves and concentrate solely on captaincy. Unlike Bangalore, he went for the tried and tested course and handed Ishant Sharma and Ajit Agarkar the new ball.

Youngster Sreevats Goswami, voted the best young player of last year's IPL, got the first boundary for Bangalore when he smashed Agarkar over the cover region in the second over.

Jacques Kallis got his first boundary with an excellent drive through the covers in the third over, but it looked like Bangalore were intent on taking the cautious route in the first few overs.

Goswami decided he had seen enough and started to take on the Kolkata bowlers. In the fourth over, he showed Agarkar scant respect when he smashed him for consecutive boundaries.

The 19-year-old then took on left-arm spinner Murali Kartik in the fifth over, smashing him for two boundaries down the ground. Bangalore reached 40 for no loss after five overs to bring up their best opening stand in any IPL match so far.

Goswami's inclusion, in place of the struggling Robin Uthappa, was proving to be a good choice. The left-hander raced to 28 from 23 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries, and looked quite comfortable despite playing his first game in the tournament.

The Kolkata bowlers then resorted to a disciplined line and length, bowling to restrict the scoring. Just 19 runs came in five overs as Bangalore reached 65 from 10 overs, still needing another 75 from the last 10 overs.

The strategy break that followed once again worked in favour of the bowling team as Kolkata claimed both the openers in the space of three overs.

First, part-timer Brad Hodge had Goswami caught behind for 43 as the left-hander tried to sweep from outside the off-stump. The Aussie struck six boundaries in his 46-ball knock, adding 69 runs for the opening wicket with Kallis to give his team a solid platform. (69-1, 11.1)

Kallis followed him back in the next over when he tried to pull Ishant but top-edged the ball to the wicketkeeper and was dismissed for 23 from 25 deliveries. (77-2, 12.4)

Kohli and Pietersen though kept it simple, looking to score singles and twos every delivery with the odd boundary in between.

With 42 runs needed off the last five overs, Kohli decided it was time to make a move. He danced down the wicket and slammed Hodge for a six in the 16th over to keep Bangalore in the hunt.

But then disaster struck, as both Kohli and Pietersen fell in the space of three deliveries, both to Hodge.

Kohli was caught behind by wicketkeeper van Wyk for 19 (12 deliveries) while Pietersen was caught by Saha at mid-on for 13 (12 deliveries) trying another big shot. (107-4, 16)

Suddenly, Kolkata seemed heading for victory, with Bangalore needing 33 runs off the last four overs and two new batsmen at the crease.

But Van der Merwe and Mark Boucher hit a six each in successive overs to bring the equation down to 14 off the last two overs.

Ishant then bowled a tight four-run over, in which he picked the wicket of Van der Merwe, to give his team a sniff of victory. Van der Merwe tried a few wild heaves before edging one to the wicketkeeper and was dismissed for 9. (129-5, 18.5)

The match was tantalizingly poised with 10 needed off the final over and Gayle called on to bowl it. Boucher struck the vital blow, when he smashed the second delivery for a boundary through midwicket. The South African wicketkeeper then finished the match in style, hitting a full toss through square leg for a boundary to take his team to victory.

Boucher finished unbeaten on 25 from 13 deliveries (2 boundaries, 1 six) as Bangalore posted 143 for 5 in 19.5 overs.

The opening partnership of 69 between Goswami and Kallis proved crucial in the final analysis. Boucher used all his experience and stayed cool in the final overs to guide the Bangalore side to just their second victory in this year's IPL.  Deservedly, he was named man of the match.

Ishant was Kolkata's best bowler, taking two for 15 in his four overs; Hodge claimed three for 29 in four, but the other bowlers came up a bit short.

The victory was big relief for Bangalore and Pietersen was the first to charge to the ground and celebrate. It was his last match in charge and the Bangalore captain will no doubt be glad to return with a much-needed victory under his belt.

Kolkata must be wondering what they need to do to get out of rut. The batting is a big problem, while the bowlers continue to disappoint.

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