Gautam Gambhir is not a man to flash a smile too often on the playing field, but he couldn’t contain his joy after Kolkata Knight Riders won the Eliminator against Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets in a rain-curtailed affair in Bangalore on Wednesday (May 17).
The Kolkata captain was generous in his praise of his bowlers who kept the opposition, consisting of the likes of David Warner, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson and Yuvraj Singh, down to a modest 128 for 7 in 20 overs.
“A lot of credit needs to go the bowlers the way they hung in there,” the Kolkata skipper said at the post-match presentation ceremony. “With the kind of batting Sunrisers have, they obviously had to dig deep.”
After a fine effort with the ball, Kolkata, however, faced the fear of being knocked out without even taking the field again as heavy rains lashed the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Hyderabad would’ve gone through in case of an abandoned game.
“You do get nervous because I feel we worked really hard to get here. Obviously, the bowlers had set up the game for us and it would have been really unfair on us because I thought restricting them to 128 was an unbelievable effort. They dug really deep for us and they deserved this victory,” Gambhir said, stressing on the word “deserved”.
It was a disappointing end for the defending champions and Warner, the Hyderabad captain, wasn’t too pleased with the nature of the Bangalore surface this season, even though he accepted that his team didn’t bat well enough.
“I think we were 30 runs short, it was a real tough to wicket to bat on, no real momentum,” said Warner, Hyderabad’s top-scorer with a 35-ball 37. “I think they bowled really well and used the conditions to their favour. It’s been a disappointing wicket all season, I think. But on the day we had to come out and do our best, and we fell short with the bat.”
Gambhir looked the most comfortable batsman on the night with a fluent 19-ball 32, helping Kolkata track down the revised target in 5.2 overs, and differed in his opinion of the pitch.
“Teams when batting here first are still trying to get about 180 in the first innings. If you look to get 150, you might get 160, but if you look to get 180, you might end up getting all out or 120-130. So you need to be sensible,” Gambhir offered.
“Every time you come here, you want to score 200 and sometimes you’ve got to try to assess the conditions quickly. I don’t think it was that bad a wicket. Our bowlers won us the game.”