Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) signed off from the Champions League Twenty20 with a convincing 99-run win over Titans here on Sunday.
Chasing a stiff target of 189, Titans looked like never being in the hunt and lost wickets at regular intervals to end up with a mere 89 in 16.4 overs.
Lakshmipathi Balaji was the star bowler for KKR, returning figures of four for 19 in a niggardly spell of four overs. He was ably assisted by spinners Iqbal Abdulla (two for 20) and Sunil Narine (one for eight).
Earlier, the KKR batsmen finally came good as they posted an imposing 188 for five. After scoring 107 runs in the front 10, the Knights lost wickets at regular intervals but still managed to get 81 runs in the back 10.
With the match being an inconsequential one for the IPL champion, its batsmen threw caution to the winds. There was an exhibition of some fine big hitting by the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Brendon McCullum and man-of-the-match Debabrata Das.
While Gambhir top scored with 44 (36b, 4x4, 1x6), McCullum and Debabrata contributed 36 and 43 not out respectively.
A special mention must be made for Debabrata, whose ferocious hitting in the final overs helped KKR reach its highest total in the tournament. The burly Debabrata scored 43 in only 19 balls with six boundaries and two sixes. He added 55 runs along with Manoj Tiwary in only 4.3 overs.
The hitting was started by Bisla, who smashed his way to 27 off only 14 deliveries and in the process hit three fours and two identically pulled sixes off seamer Ethy Mbhalati, before holing out to the cover region.
McCullum also batted with a ‘Devil may care’ attitude as he first pulled Alfonso Thomas for a six and then danced down the track to hit off-spinner Eden Links for two huge sixes as 17 runs were taken from his first over.
Gambhir also got into the act as he hit three fours in one over from Mbhalati as the 50 partnership for second wicket came off 25 balls. After a whirlwind 63-run stand in just over five overs, McCullum departed, caught in the deep off the bowling of medium-pacer Cornelius de Villiers. His 36 had come off only 20 balls with three boundaries and three sixes.
Once MCCullum was gone, KKR suddenly lost the momentum. Jacques Kallis scratched his way to 18 off 20 balls, while Gambhir also couldn’t get the boundaries. Both were frustrated and were out trying to clear the boundary.
Kolkata Knight Riders: M. Bisla c de Villiers b Mbhalati 27, G. Gambhir c Wiese b van der Merwe 44, B. McCullum c Behardien b de Villiers 36, J. Kallis c van der Merwe b Wiese 18, M. Tiwary (not out) 13, Y. Pathan c Rudolph b van der Merwe 0, D. Das (not out) 43; Extras (b-1, lb-4, w-2): 7; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 188.
Fall of wickets: 1-32, 2-95, 3-129, 4-132, 5-133.
Titans bowling: Mbhalati 4-0-48-1, Thomas 4-0-52-0, de Villiers 3-0-26-1, Links 1-0-17-0, van der Merwe 4-0-18-2, Wiese 4-0-22-1.
Titans: H. Davids b Kallis 13, J. Rudolph c Narine b Abdulla 25, H. Kuhn b Balaji 10, M. van Jaarsveld c McCullum b Balaji 0, F. Behardien c Bisla b Balaji 8, D. Wiese st. Bisla b Abdulla 5, R. van der Merwe b Balaji 7, C. de Villiers b Tiwary 4, A. Thomas st. Bisla b Tiwary 6, E. Links b Narine 1, E. Mbhalati (not out) 6; Extras (b-1, lb-3): 4; Total (in 16.4 overs): 89.
Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-51, 3-51, 4-51, 5-60, 6-70, 7-72, 8-82, 9-83.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Kallis 3-0-25-1, Lee 2-0-5-0, Narine 2.4-0-8-1, Abdulla 4-0-20-2, Balaji 4-0-19-4, Tiwary 1-0-8-2.