Rajasthan’s Pravin Tambe just too good for Kolkata

Leg-spinner takes the IPL season's first hat-trick as Knight Riders collapse in 10-run defeat to Royals.
Shane Watson, the Rajasthan captain, performed with bat and ball against Kolkata. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Shane Watson, the Rajasthan captain, performed with bat and ball against Kolkata. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

AHMEDABAD // A late burst by the Rajasthan Royals bowlers, Pravin Tambe starring with the first hat-trick of the IPL’s seventh season, led the way in their superb 10-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Sardar Patel Stadium on Monday.

Chasing Rajasthan’s 170 for six, Kolkata looked on course to avenge their heartbreaking Super Over loss against the same opponents in the UAE leg of the tournament, thanks to a 121-run opening stand between Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir. But an excellent effort by Shane Watson (3-16) and Tambe (3-26) triggered a sensational collapse – from 121 for no loss to 123 for six – and Kolkata eventually finished at 160 for six.

Uthappa looked in sublime touch as he hit consecutive boundaries off Watson in the third over of the innings. Gambhir, who dealt with singles initially, finally found the fence in the fifth over, hitting a crisp boundary over midwicket. Back-to-back boundaries off Tim Southee in the next over showed further glimpses of Gambhir when at his prime.

It would be fair to say that Rajasthan were missing their home in Jaipur as ‘Gauti, Gauti’ chants reverberated across the near-capacity Motera stadium. Uthappa brought up his half-century in style with a towering effort over long-off off Rahul Tewatia, who replaced Dhawal Kulkarni in Rajasthan’s playing XI. Gambhir followed suit, stepping out and hitting Rajat Bhatia over deep midwicket.

Rajasthan’s bowlers wore a helpless look at this stage as the duo, with a combination of neat hitting and quick running, had crossed the 100-run mark in just 12.2 overs.

They finally managed to get a breakthrough when Watson induced a thick edge off Gambhir to end his 34-ball 54. Prior to this outing, Gambhir had scores of 0, 0, 0, 1, 45 and 6, and needed this innings as much for his confidence as to put questions over his place in the side to rest.

Gambhir’s wicket triggered a collapse that Kolkata failed to recover from. Watson sent Uthappa and Andre Russell back within a space of four deliveries, Uthappa falling to a hoick after a 52-ball 65 and Russell losing his middle stump to a peach.

Three more wickets fell in the next over. Tambe had his first victim when Manish Pandey stepped out only to be stumped off a leg-side wide. Yusuf Pathan handed an easy return catch off the next ball – the first legal one of the over, while Ryan ten Doeschate was trapped lbw first ball.

With 39 required off 18 balls, Shakib Al Hasan gave Kolkata hope with a brief flourish, hitting a four and a six off Tim Southee, but tight bowling in the final two overs ensured Kolkata ended short.

Earlier, after winning the toss, Gambhir did not hesitate to bowl first on a pitch with a smattering of green. But Kolkata’s bowlers failed to do justice to the decision as Ajinkya Rahane and Karun Nair associated for a 52-run stand in just 6.3 overs.

Rahane got off the mark off the first ball with a well-timed flick to deep square-leg, and both he and Nair played a few attractive shots in their partnership. Rahane was particularly severe on Umesh Yadav, whom he hit for a four and a six in one over.

However, the introduction of Sunil Narine in the sixth over put Kolkata back on track. And just as the well-set pair had started to threaten, the association broke in the only way it could have – a run out, with Rahane failing to beat Narine’s direct hit from short fine-leg.

The scoring rate dipped after that as Karun and Sanju Samson dealt mostly in singles with an occasional boundary. Four quiet overs had passed and Karun broke the deadlock in the 12th over with a towering six over square leg off a top edge.

But Karun, whose sparkling 73 had helped Rajasthan get past Delhi Daredevils on Saturday, was stumped off Shakib after a 35-ball 44, and his dismissal turned out to be a blessing for Rajasthan, with Shane Watson’s arrival opening the floodgates.

Tidy bowling from Shakib and Narine tied Watson down for the first five deliveries. But it was R Vinay Kumar who felt the brunt of Watson fury, in the 16th over, as Watson hit two huge sixes and hammered a boundary through extra cover. That over took the total from 116 to 135. That still left room for a bowling trick. Watson was left bemused for one ball when Russell appeared to pull up while running in to deliver the ball, but completed his action nonetheless, with a stupefied Watson standing and watching the ball go through to the wicketkeeper. Nigel Llong, the umpire, ruled it a legal delivery, and it could potentially set a template for quicker bowlers to add one more trick to their repertoire, albeit an unusual one.

In the field, Kolkata continued their trend of taking excellent catches. Watson perished after a 20-ball 31 when Suryakumar Yadav stretched across the long-on boundary, balancing himself well to hold on to the chance off Narine and stay within the ropes. In the next over, ten Doeschate, replacing Jacques Kallis, took a well-judged catch leaping high at the midwicket boundary, to send Stuart Binny back.

In the end though, the runs they all contributed to putting up, Bhatia ending the innings with a six off Vinay, were enough to give Rajasthan the win.

Disha Shetty is a sub editor for Wisden India. Visit www.wisdenindia.com or follow them on Twitter @WisdenIndia.

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Published: May 5, 2014 04:00 AM

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