Sunday, 14 April 2013

Gambhir, Morgan set up big win for Kolkata

 Gautam Gambhir's 18th IPL half-century - now a record - set up the perfect platform for Eoin Morgan to exploit while Jacques Kallis coolly sat back and kept alternating the strike. With Kolkata Knight Riders' big three taking them to 180 on a pitch that had prompted both sides to pick an extra spinner each, their bowlers defended the total without a threat from Sunrisers Hyderabad.After Gambhir won the toss, Manvinder Bisla got the Kolkata innings going by getting stuck into the part-time offspin of Hanuma Vihari in the second over. Gambhir let Bisla take the risks as he himself went solidly in the Powerplay, but the sight of legspin, and the ball turning into him, was an invitation he didn't refuse. In Amit Mishra's first over, Gambhir took two boundaries down the ground, and even though the other legspinner Karan Sharma got Bisla, Gambhir kept going strong in those middle overs.In the next two overs, Gambhir took a four and a six off the legspinners, taking Kolkata to 76 for 1 after 10. Kallis had begun to shake off his slow start by the time Gambhir finally fell to Ashish Reddy in the 14th over, but it was Morgan who provided them the real impetus. He got going with a bit of a mis-hit off Mishra, which carried over long-on. The last 28 balls, including that six, yielded 70 runs.Thisara Perera bore most of the brunt of the Morgan assault when 22 came off the 18th over bowled by him. It contained two flat pulls and a cut for fours, a straight six, and one wide to boot. Morgan was run out in the 19th over, but Kallis finished off well, registering an almost inconspicuous 41 off 27. Morgan looted 47 off 21.Sunrisers have surprised many so far in the tournament, but they have done so chasing lowish totals. They have always seemed light at the top, and it was reiterated despite the promotion of Cameron White to open the innings. All it took Kolkata was to remain steady and straight with the ball, and even into the seventh over, the openers were struggling with a strike rate of under a run a ball.If it were the spinners - IPL debutant Sachithra Senananayake and Sunil Narine - that built the pressure at the top, Kallis the allrounder bothered Parthiv Patel with bowling short and straight. It finally produced the wickets of the openers, and the 113 required to get in 9.3 overs were always going to be too many on the slowish track. And so it proved to be, giving Kolkata their biggest win at home.

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