Kolkata, April 11: Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) struggled through to a three-wicket win in their maiden Indian Premier League 2015 (IPL 8) encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) courtesy Chris Gayle, who scored a blistering 96 from 56 deliveries.
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Sent in to bat, KKR put up a formidable total on the scoreboard 177/6, with skipper Gautam Gambhir top scoring with 58 ably supported by a 17-ball unbeaten 41 from West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell at the Eden Gardens. (Dropping my catch was turning point: Gayle)
In reply, Gayle hammered the KKR bowling all around the park and helped his side reach the target with six balls to spare. He was ably supported by South African AB de Villiers who scored 28 of 13 deliveries.
Earlier, West Indies all-rounder Andre Russell's spectacular cameo enabled defending champions KKR reach a comfortable 177 for six.
Russell smashed 41 off 17 balls with six boundaries and two sixes after skipper Gautam Gambhir created a platform with his second successive half-century in as many matches.
Courtesy Gambhir's 58 off 46 balls (7x4, 1x6) and Robin Uthappa (35 from 28 balls; 4x4), KKR got a flying start with an 81-run opening partnership.
The KKR opening duo faced 64 balls for their 81 runs with skipper being lucky when AB de Villiers dropped a sitter when he was on 31 with the unlucky bowler being Abu Nechim Ahmed.
KKR were in a spot at 131 for four when they lost Manish Pandey (23) and Suryakumar Yadav (11) quickly but Russell took charge to take the team to safety.
Before RCB could make any further inroad Russell entertained the packed Eden crowd towards the death with his 17-ball 41 studded with six fours and two fours to give KKR score some fillip.
Put in, KKR could not have asked for a better start, with two boundaries that went past their fielders and another run from an desperate overthrow for 13 runs from the first over bowled by Sean Abbott.
More than the runs that Abott leaked in the first over, it was RCB's frantic approach that it seemed derailed them as they looked mentally exhausted.
Considered one of the safest fielders in the modern day cricket, De Villiers fluffed a catch and looked edgy in fielding among all of them.
KKR raced to 40 from four overs and the duo notched their 50-run partnership in 32 balls. Gambhir going all guns blazing with 31 from 27 balls pulled a short ball of Abu Nechim Ahmed as it went straight to the ever reliable de Villiers but the ball was seen popped out of the South African's hands in one unbelievable moment.
RCB finally managed to get the breakthrough after 10 overs with Abu Nechim breaking the opening partnership for 81 when Uthappa (35) holed out to Darren Sammy at long on. Kohli's men made a comeback by getting a second breakthrough when legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed Gambhir with a wrong one.
KKR earlier brought in uncapped rookie spinner KC Cariappa in place of Umesh Yadav in a bold move against a team that boasted the most explosive batting line-up in Kohli, Gayle and de Villiers.