Anil Kumble, the Bangalore Royal Challengers captain, blamed his batsmen for their seven-wicket defeat against the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League in Kolkata yesterday. Runners-up in South Africa last year, the Royal Challengers lost wickets early on and could only manage 135 for seven, with just Jacques Kallis (65 not out) offering resistance.
Manoj Tiwary and Brad Hodge, the Knight Riders openers, both struck half-centuries and although the Royal Challengers stretched the game to the final over, the Knight Riders easily sealed their second victory in the tournament. Kumble said: "It was a slow wicket and we always knew it would be that way, but it was a lot slower than we expected. "We just didn't have enough runs on the board, 150-160 would have been competitive. We lost too many wickets up front and we just couldn't get any momentum from there on, although Kallis was brilliant with the bat."
However, Kumble believed his team would bounce back. "This hasn't been the greatest of starts, but we didn't have a great start in either of the previous editions," he said. "I think it's all about winning on that day, but today was very disappointing. Our next match comes up in Bangalore in a couple of days' time and hopefully we can start winning from there." Angelo Mathews, the Sri Lanka all-rounder who claimed four for 19 for the Knight Riders, came in for special praise from coach Dav Whatmore.
"He is a little gem, he's got an abundance of potential and talent and I can see him rising very high for his country Sri Lanka," Whatmore said. "He's very clever, an incredible thinker and his ability with the ball belies his age, he's only 22. Importantly, he has got the confidence to apply all these tactics with the ball." The Knight Riders were in control from the outset with Charl Langeveldt striking in his second over with the new ball, getting rid of Shreevats Goswami (eight). Then, as against champions Deccan Chargers in their opening game, Sourav Ganguly, the captain, made the bowling changes and it all clicked nicely.
Mathews struck in his first over to remove Manish Pandey for a seven-ball duck, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik snared Virat Kohli (two) in his first over and struck again to send back debutant Eoin Morgan - who had shown his intent with a second-ball six - for 10. The Royal Challengers managed a measly 24 from the first six overs and had slumped to 35 for four when Kallis found support in Rahul Dravid (21) and the tempo lifted briefly. Kallis reached his half-century in 47 deliveries, but despite his heroics his team had a below-par total to defend.
* With agencies