New Delhi: Going into the game, Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir spoke about how his team loves chasing and his teammates reposed the faith shown by the skipper as they chased down Rising Pune Supergiant’s total of 182 with 11 balls to spare. Riding on Robin Uthappa’s 47-ball 87, KKR cruised home with 7 wickets in hand and are now seated at the top of the points table.
Chasing 182 is never easy, but Uthappa looked like he had an early flight to catch as he thrashed the Pune bowlers all over the park. Coming in after a smart piece of flick from MS Dhoni caught Sunil Narine short of his crease, Uthappa did offer Pune an easy chance when he was yet to put the foot on the accelerator.
Batting on 12, Uthappa tried to slog sweep Imran Tahir into the square-leg fence. He got the height but not the distance as the ball headed straight to Jaydev Unadkat. But Unadkat made a complete mess of it with KKR’s score on 47/1 after 6.3 overs.
After that, it was the Uthappa show as he swept the spinners and pulled the pacers with such elan as though he was batting at the nets against a bowling machine. In fact, Gambhir was happy to play second fiddle as Uthappa made sure that the required run-rate was under control all through.
But that wasn’t the only dropped chance of the game. Washington Sundar dropped Gambhir when the latter was batting on 32. A mistimed pull was headed straight to Sundar off Dan Christian’s bowling, but he failed to hold onto that one.
Finally it was Rahul Tripathi who held onto a catch. Uthappa, batting on 87, looked to pull Unadkat and got a top edge, for Tripathi to complete an easy catch running back at long off. But by then, KKR’s score read 178/2 and they needed another 5 runs to get home.
Gambhir too was dismissed in the next over as the skipper too tried to pull and top-edged the ball to Shardul Thakur at mid-on for 62. But that was more about a consolation to Pune.
Earlier, Pune started really well with both Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi going great guns. They raced to 50 in the 6th over as they looked to attack the Kolkata bowlers on a placid wicket. Out of ideas, Gambhir finally turned to Piyush Chawla in the 8th over.
And Chawla immediately answered his captain’s call as he dismissed Tripathi, bowled, for a 23-ball 38. But Rahane and Steven Smith continued the good work as they steadied the ship and looked to keep the scoreboard moving.
Even though Kuldeep Yadav did trouble them, they ensured that the duo didn’t give him a wicket. Rahane (46) was finally stumped by Uthappa as Narine bowled this one wide and Rahane lost his balance in trying to cut it. Good presence of mind from Uthappa.
Dhoni joined Smith in the middle and it looked like Dhoni was meant to take the game away from Kolkata as he started with a bang. He hit Chawla for a boundary and then a six as the crowd started cheering him on. He then went on to pull Kuldeep for a huge six.
But it was Kuldeep who had the last laugh as Dhoni tried to jump down the track in the next over and was stumped. Dhoni’s 11-ball 23 did put Pune in a commanding position. But losing Manoj Tiwary (1) in the same over, again stumped by Uthappa, meant that Pune lost the momentum with the score reading 150/4 in the 18th over.
Christian and Smith did ensure that Pune ended with a flurry as they picked 18 and 12 runs off the 19th and 20th over respectively. Christian was dismissed off the last ball as he tried to hit Umesh Yadav out of the park.