Royal Challengers Bangalore 158 for 2 (Gayle 85*, Kohli 35) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 154 for 8 (Gambhir 59, RP 3-27) by eight wickets
Chris Gayle took centrestage once again for Royal Challengers Bangalore, after a rare-slip up in their previous game. He consigned a quiet start to a chase of 155 to a distant memory with another calm demolition job of an opposition team, backed up by his captain Virat Kohli, as Kolkata Knight Riders suffered their second defeat in a row following a promising start to their new season as defending champions.
Gautam Gambhir guided the Knight Riders batting, happy at being asked to bat during the toss, but the total his side managed proved below-par on an excellent track for batting. The Royal Challengers seamers bowled impressively to restrict partnerships after they had begun encouragingly, and struck in the late overs to stifle an attempted surge. It kept Knight Riders down to a chaseable score, and Gayle made it look worse than it was.
Gambhir was at ease piercing the gaps through the in-field, dispatching Moises Henriques, who opened the bowling, through the leg side and RP Singh past point and extra cover. Muttiah Muralitharan was driven through off, smacked over mid-on, and slog-swept, all this during a half-century stand with Jacques Kallis that promised to take Knight Riders beyond what they eventually got. Kallis sliced Vinay Kumar to deep point, but the promotion of Yusuf Pathan to No.4 triggered an acceleration.
Yusuf struck his first three balls, all from Vinay, for boundaries to different parts of the ground, before whipping Jaidev Unadkat for six over midwicket. But Royal Challengers pulled things back, breaking the stand when Yusuf holed out to long-on off a slower delivery from Henriques. Gambhir and Tiwary put together a spirited partnership of their own, but the pair, together with Eoin Morgan, fell in a space of two overs at the death. RP leaked a few fours, but picked up three wickets and ran out Ryan McLaren in his final spell. The last four overs, which began with seven wickets in hand, yielded just 31 runs.
Knight Riders would have expected a closer contest, having limited the hosts to 21 for 1 in the first five overs of the chase. But both Gayle and Kohli compensated for their early restraint. They targeted McLaren – who was replacing Brett Lee – first, Kohli whipping him for two fours through the leg side and Gayle swinging him for two massive sixes near cow corner. Kohli cashed in on anything bowled too straight, dismissing Pradeep Sangwan for two consecutive sixes.
The occasional relief for Knight Riders came through Sunil Narine’s miserly spell and when Sangwan managed to york Gayle, though not well enough to beat his defense, and but there was a generous supply of length balls against a batsman well set and in the groove to finish things off quickly. Gayle picked out the deep midwicket area, sending Sangwan again, and L Balaji, over the ropes before reserving the same treatment for Kallis twice in an over.
Changes of pace, cutters, and variations in length were all futile against Gayle, who was the architect of another dominating Royal Challengers performance. Just how will bowling attacks find a way through that formidable trio of Gayle, Kohli, and AB de Villiers?