First win of the season for Gautam Gamhir's side while Kevin Pietersen and Morne Morkel star in Delhi Daredevils victory.
Balaji takes four wickets as Kolkata triumph in the IPL
Lakshmipathy Balaji produced a superb spell of seam bowling as the Kolkata Knight Riders picked up their first win of the tournament yesterday, defeating the Bangalore Royal Challengers by 42 runs in the Indian Premier League.
Balaji bowled an immaculate line to finish with figures of four for 18 from his four overs, taking the important wickets of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers to help restrict Bangalore to 123 for nine after Kolkata had scored 165-8 in 20 overs.
The wicket of de Villiers, who was bowled by Balaji for 10, was the one that gave the Indian the most satisfaction.
"It gives a lot of pleasure when you get a top player like de Villiers, he said."
Jacques Kallis had earlier removed big-hitting opener Chris Gayle and Cheteshwar Pujara to complete an all-round performance of 22 and two for seven, and Balaji believed his efforts, along with those of Brett Lee, had been key to Kolkata's fine display with the ball.
"Today I got my momentum going. Jacques and Lee gave us the start though," he said.
Gautam Gambhir (64) and Manvinder Bisla (46) were the other performers for Kolkata as they put their poor start to the competition behind them.
They had been hammered by eight wickets at home to Delhi and were then beaten by 22 runs at Rajasthan in their previous games, but there was no evidence of any shortage of confidence as they made a superb start after being put in to bat.
A huge score looked to be in the offing as Kallis and Gambhir took a liking to the Bangalore attack, putting on 60 for the first wicket in just 38 balls at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
After Kallis's steady innings was brought to an end by Daniel Vettori, the Bangalore captain, Gambhir and Manvinder Bisla added 64 in less than eight overs.
Gambhir struck nine fours in his 39-ball innings, the captain hitting the pace bowler Harshal Patel for 15 in an over, including the lone six of his innings as he struck the fastest half-century of the tournament to date.
Bisla struck three sixes and two fours, the wicketkeeper-batsman using his feet well during his 29-ball knock.
He was fooled by a ball that left him from the Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan to be stumped as he jumped out of his crease.
Muralitharan, Zaheer Khan and Vinay Kumar took two wickets each as Kolkata slipped from 125 for one in the 14th over, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate and Shakib Al Hassan all failing to get into double figures.
In reply, Bangalore failed to recover from the early wickets by Kallis and Balaji was later well supported by the all-rounder Rajat Bhatia in the middle of the innings to mount pressure on the home batsmen.
Bangalore were 33 for five in the 10th over. A brief resistance by Vettori (20) was brought to an end by Balaji in his final over.
Vinay Kumar threw his bat around for 25 off 26 balls but the contribution was too little too late.
A delighted Gambhir said: "It was important for us to get on the board. We have the quality in the team, if we play to our potential, then we will be hard to beat.
"Balaji's bowling today was the best I have seen in a Twenty20 competition."
A disappointed Vettori acknowledged that the quality of Kolkata's attack had proved to be too good for his side on the day.
"That opening spell from Lee, Kallis and Balaji set us back and we could not recover," he said.
"It was exceptional bowling from them. We continually lost wickets."
Elsewhere, less than a week after they had been opponents in the Test arena, Kevin Pietersen and Mahela Jayawardene teamed up to steer the Delhi Daredevils to an eight-wicket home win over the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League last night.
Pietersen and Jayawardene had headed to India straight from Colombo following the completion of Sri Lanka’s Test series with England, and the pair put on 61 for the third wicket as Delhi reached 111 for two, in reply to 110 for eight, off just 13.2 overs.
Virender Sehwag, the Delhi captain, said the arrival of the pair had given the team a lift.
He said: “We’ve international class which has been boosted by the return of KP and Mahela. As a result of that, I can play freely.”
Pietersen continued the form which had seen him help England recover from one down to draw the Test series with 43 off 26 balls, including three fours and two sixes.
Jayawardene, the Sri Lnkan Test captain, hit 20 not out and there was also 33 from Sehwag.
Chennai had got off to a bad start after being put in by Delhi when Murali Vijay was run out off the first ball after being sent back by his opening partner Faf du Plessis.
Chennai never really got their innings going and lost wickets at regular intervals, including four run-outs.
A disappointed MS Dhoni, the Chennai captain, said: We posted a below par score. The wicket behaved well in the second half.
“We were looking to have a left and right hand combination but the run-outs never let us get that right. We have to be more consistent and look to play good cricket.”
Dwayne Bravo top-scored for Chennai with a sluggish 22 off 31 balls as Morne Morkel picked up two for 19 from his four overs, including the prize wicket of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for 11.
The victory was Delhi’s second off the tournament and Morkel said: It was a home game for us and we got off to a good start. The groundsman have to be complimented for putting up a good wicket.
“I was under pressure to bowl to a power house of Chennai’s batting line-up.”
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