Bangalore: Rahul Dravid (52) and Robin Uthappa (52) smashed breezy half-centuries to script Royal Challengers Bangalore’s clinical seven-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders and brought their Indian Premier League campaign back on track here on Saturday.
Bangalore have not only enhanced their semifinal chances with this win as they have moved to number two in the points table but also made life tough for their rivals, as now they need to win all three remaining games to stand any chance to finish among top four.
Chasing a modest 161 to win, the hosts overhauled the target with 17 balls to spare as Uthappa unleashed a flurry of boundaries to finish off the game for the hosts in a hurry after Dravid set it up with a brilliant knock.
Earlier, Kolkata Knight Riders huffed and puffed to 160 for nine after a sensational start, squandered by a middle-order collapse, at M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Brendon McCullum (45), Chris Gayle (34) and Sourav Ganguly (33) batted well for the Kolkata after being sent in to bat but their middle-order put up a pathetic show.
Paceman R Vinay Kumar (3/23) did well for Bangalore by striking regularly which turned the tide in the favour of his side.
In Bangalore’s chase Uthappa’s breathtaking 22-ball unbeaten knock had five sixes and three fours while Dravid’s 35-ball knock had five fours and two sixes.
It was Rahul Dravid who gave the thrust to the RCB chase after Ashok Dinda had scalped IPL’s leading run-getter Jacques Kallis in the third over of the innings.
Dravid hit the ball clean and hard and found the gaps with precision and also hit two sixes off Ajit Agarkar.
He raised 72 runs (53 balls) in association with S Sriram (27), who replaced Manish Pandey in the team.
When Uthappa trudged in, RCB required 77 runs in 9.2 overs. The stocky Bangalorean made short work of the target, taking Ishant Sharma and Ajantha Mendis to the cleaners with his power-hitting.
If Ishant conceded 17 runs in his fourth over, Mendis went for 18 as Uthhapa smote the finger spinner into the mid-wicket stands with stunning reverse sweep.
Uthappa and Ross Taylor (14 not out) produced a blistering 62 runs in just 23 balls to bury Knight Rider’s challenge.
Earlier, at one stage, Kolkata were placed comfortably at 101 for one in 11 overs, looking for a huge score, but the whole script changed as the visitors struggled to keep wickets in hand.
Kolkata got off to a rollicking start with Ganguly and Gayle going hammers and tongs right from the word go.
They had galloped to 52 in barely 32 balls when Kallis produced the much-needed breakthrough for Bangalore.
Venturing to hit the burly fast bowler over the top, Gayle holed out to Dravid at covers but not before hitting six fours and a six in his 15 ball cameo.
Ganguly continued to treat the bowlers with disdain before R Vinay Kumar had him caught at square leg by Anil Kumble. Ganguly’s 33, included two fours and two sixes.
McCullum continued to slay the RCB attack, keeping the run-rate at around nine. But his dismissal, caught by Vinay Kumar at square leg off Kumble, stopped the visitors in their tracks.
The Kiwi batsman hit five fours and two sixes in his crucial knock but did not get any support from his middle-order colleagues as the batsmen came and went in hurry.
Vinay Kumar and Kallis (2 for 31) bowled extremely well to ensure that their rivals do not build on a solid start.