Kolkata careen to only win, jeopardise Titans’ chances


Kolkata Knight Riders played every bit like the side they were, one with nothing to lose, and in careening to their first win of the tournament, they jeopardised the hitherto undefeated Titans’ chances of making the semi-finals. However, once Kolkata tried to normalise after losing the second wicket at 95 in the ninth over, they began to flounder again. And once Debabrata Das embraced the devil-may-care attitude again, both hits and mis-hits began to clear the ropes, and the resultant total was 67 more than what was enough to produce a thriller on the same pitch hours ago.
Titans were always going to struggle chasing 189 on a slightly sticky pitch, and their prospects worsened when they lost their big-hitting opener Henry Davids for 13. They tried to pinch-hit with the promoted Heino Kuhn, but once Kuhn and Martin van Jaarsveld fell to successive L Balaji deliveries in the eighth over, the game was all but over. Arguably, though, their captain van Jaarsveld had made the bigger mistake much earlier.
Van Jaarsveld knew he was taking a risk when he asked Knight Riders, who did not have a care in the world today, to bat. His decision at the toss was dictated by the overcast skies and dew expected later in the day. As it turned out, without any target or points to chase, Knight Riders played with the freedom they would have hoped to bring to more meaningful matches. On a pitch that produced a last-over thriller at around a run a ball, their top three basically threw their bats at nearly everything. It came off sensationally for Manvinder Bisla and Brendon McCullum for long enough to score 63 off 34 balls between them, but Gautam Gambhir embraced caution after McCullum’s fall. A period of 18 runs in four overs resulted in rash shots, and Jacques Kallis, Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan fell trying to hit sixes, within four runs of each other, to make it 133 for 5 in the 16th over. Das then did away with niceties and resumed swinging at anything that moved. Top edges flew over the keeper’s head, swats avoided deep fielders, and in between he evened it all out with some brute hitting, including driving CJ de Villiers over long-off for a six. Das and Manoj Tiwary added 55 off the last 27 balls to take Knight Riders to the highest total of the tournament. Batting seemed easy without the fear of consequences, but the result meant Tuesday’s games were laden with consequence: three of the four teams in action will be playing for a semi-final spot.