Six balls can make or break a career or at least a season for any player in the Twenty20 format. Three players will certainly vouch for that after Kolkata Knight Riders beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by five wickets in the IPL.
Yusuf Pathan came back from the wilderness for Kolkata with the bat, but his teammate Umesh Yadav and a more seasoned rival bowler Shane Watson were left counting the scars from costly overs in a match where big-hitting at the end swung the fortunes for either team dramatically.
Eventually, Pathan (60 from 29 balls) and Andre Russell (39 from 24) scaled down Bangalore’s target of 186 with five deliveries to spare.
That looked unlikely in the 15th over of the chase when Kolkata looked barely hanging on to the required run-rate at 123 for four.
That was when Pathan inflicted the damage he had a reputation for but never quite delivered in the past few seasons. He took 24 runs off Watson that changed the complexion of the game in the 17th over.
It was at the same stage when Bangalore batted that the middle-order batsmen of Watson and Stuart Binny feasted on two overs from Umesh.
The fast bowler had given away 14 runs in his first two overs but came at the death and conceded 24 and 18 runs off his next two. The total of 56 runs that he conceded put in shade the 52 each from Lokesh Rahul and Virat Kohli, Bangalore’s joint top-scorers.
Winning captain Gautam Gambhir could afford to offer consolation for Umesh though.
"Umesh didn't have a great day but he is a quality bowler," he told StarSports.
It was Russell who was adjudged man of the match, though, a tidy spell of one for 24 adding up in his favour over Pathan.
“It was an important game for us and we had to back our strength,” the West Indies all-rounder said. “It was a pleasure to bat with Yusuf.”
The defeat left Kohli searching for words. He said: “There is nothing much to say.
“We let the game drift away. Composure with the ball was lacking. Guys like Russell and Yusuf will make you pay. That’s the way it goes in T20 cricket.”
Gujarat v Delhi, 6pm
Gujarat Lions saw their three-game winning run end with a shocking loss to bottom-table Kings XI Punjab in their previous game. The leaders will have to get their acts together quickly against the Delhi Daredevils, who have risen from strength to strength steadily. Unlike Gujarat, who are a bit reliant on the top order, Delhi have flourished under mentor Rahul Dravid, captain and lead bowler Zaheer Khan and excelled as a fielding unit, too.
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