Despite the presence of stars like Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Yuvraj Singh, the costliest player this season, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) missed the train to play-offs in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The men in red lost to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 30 runs at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.
In the process, Gautam Gambhir & Co qualified to the last four with their sixth win on the trot to join Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings.
This is for the seventh successive year that RCB after an early promise, failed to deliver. In the must win tie, Kohli invited KKR to bat first. The decision proved fruitful initially when the hosts were reeling at 56 for three. But Robin Uthappa and Shakib Al Hasan went berserk taking the Knights to a winning total (195). The duo brought their international experience into play when they did the damage control and then, went on a rampage.
The Bangalore batsman, who has been in sublime touch ever since he landed in India, once again proved to be the match winner. Uthappa not only remained unbeaten on 83 off 51 (10x4, 1x6), he also shared a 121-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Shakib who scored 60 off 38 (5x3, 3x6).
This was Uthappa's fifth half-century this season as with a tally of 572 runs, the KKR opener usurped the Orange Cap from Glen Maxwell (533), who was holding on to the pole since the start of season seven in Abu Dhabi on April 16.
With so many match winners in the squad, the target was not impossible for RCB but they lost Gayle in the second over. The Jamaican was trapped leg-before by speedster Umesh Yadav. Yogesh Takawale 45 off 36 (5X4, 1X6), who replaced Parthiv Patel behind the wickets, kept the scoreboard ticking along with skipper Virat Kohli, 38 off 31 (3X4, 1X6). They shared an 85-run stand for the second wicket in 10 overs.
But when Gambhir sensed the match slipping away, he threw the ball to his main weapon Sunil Narine who did not disappoint. He ran through the RCB middle order. Yuvraj, 22 off 12 (1X4, 2X6), showed glimpse of his class but he too fell to the West Indian's magic. In the end, RCB managed 165/5, 30 short of target.
In fact, Narine followed Uthappa as he remained one away from Purple Cap holder (leading wicket-taker) Bhuvneshwar Kumar's (Sunrisers Hyderabad) tally of 20.