Kolkata, April 28 (IANS) Captain Gautam Gambhir's stroke filled 93 powered Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to an imposing 190/4 in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at the Eden Gardens Saturday.
KKR electing to bat first got off to a solid start with openers Gambhir and New Zealander Brendon McCullum giving the team their best opening stand of the tournament.
Gambhir enjoyed two reprieves early in his innings. RCB's Harshal Patel at the third-man boundary could not latch on to a difficult chance in spite of a valiant attempt. In the same over, the left hander, on 13, was again let off in the same over bowled by Zaheer Khan when Chris Gayle failed to catch an uppish cut at gully.
KKR raced to 46 in the first six overs thanks to a solid looking Gambhir who hit some classy boundaries while his McCullum also chipped in with a few fours during the fielding restrictions.
Gambhir and McCullum's (43; 37b 8x4) 95 run stand was broken in the 11th over when Daniel Vettori got the better of the Kiwi wicketkeeper-batsman who chopped the ball on to his stumps.
Meanwhile Gambhir (51b, 9x4, 5x6) much to the delight of a packed Eden crowd continued his good run, hitting the bowlers to all parts of the park. He reached his half century in the 12th over of just 28 balls. The Indian pro, however, missed the magical three figures when he holed out to a Zaheer Khan delivery at long-off, K.P. Appanna taking the catch.
While the RCB bowlers struggled against the KKR onslaught, their fielders wilted under pressure and dropped catches, missed run out chances and gave away easy runs to the opposition.
Vettori kept on juggling his bowlers in search of the elusive wicket but Gambhir and company kept hitting them for runs. Bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan struggled from the beginning and proved costly giving away 48 runs in his 4 overs.
With 150 on board in the 17th over, KKR went on an overdrive as Gambhir and Jacques Kallis 41 (27b 1x4 3x6) hit some lusty blows.
KKR scored 46 runs in the last 4 overs to reach 190/4.
Vinay Kumar (2/31) was the most successful bowler for the Challengers. Zaheer (1/48) and Vettori 1/29 were the other wicket takers.
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