CUTTACK - Gautam Gambhir's third successive fifty anchored Kolkata Knight Riders' chase and steered them to a nine-wicket win over table-toppers Kings XI Punjab. Earlier, the Knight Riders bowlers had pinned Kings XI down to 149 - the second time in the tournament they were kept to less than 150 - despite a swift 72 from Virender Sehwag.
The opening pair of Robin Uthappa and Gambhir - with two hundred-run stands in their last few games - set the platform for the chase once again, racing to 68 in seven overs. Uthappa's fluency was evident early on as he laid into Sandeep Sharma in the bowler's second over, taking three fours off him, before getting another 18 off Mitchell Johnson. His 28-ball 46 brought the run rate within control and put the chase firmly within Knight Riders' reach.
Conscious perhaps that the sight of another batting meltdown could end up becoming the symbol of their IPL 2014 campaign, Gambhir and Manish Pandey then played mostly percentage cricket in their unbeaten 82-run stand, which took the team home with two overs to spare.
There were a few run-out chances but Kings XI did not have the best day in the field, George Bailey's dropped catch off Gambhir in the 17th over being the best example of that. Kings XI, who had opted for seam-centric attack would have also felt the absence of a second spinner, specially afterAkshar Patel kept Gambhir and Pandey quiet for a couple of overs in the middle. The biggest contributor to their loss perhaps was the stark difference between the two halves of the Kings XI innings.
V Sehwag b Chawla 72
Mandeep Singh c Uthappa b Morkel 0
W Saha b Morkel 15
G Maxwell c Morkel b Chawla 14
D Miller b U Yadav 13
G Bailey not out 12
R Dhawan b Chawla 4
M Johnson st Uthappa b Narine 14
A Patel run out 1
EXTRAS: (b1, lb1, w2) 4
TOTAL: (8 wkts; 20 overs) 149
FOW: 1-17, 2-48, 3-87, 4-112, 5-120, 6-127, 7-148, 8-149
BOWLING: J Kallis 3-0-38-0, M Morkel 4-0-20-2, U Yadav 4-0-34-1, S Narine 4-0-30-1, P Chawla 4-0-19-3, R ten Doeschate 1-0-6-0
R Uthappa c Patel b Awana 46
G Gambhir not out 63
M Pandey not out 36
EXTRAS: (lb2, w3) 5
TOTAL: (1 wkt; 18 overs) 150
BOWLING: Sandeep Sharma 4-0-32-0, M Johnson 3-0-33-0, A Patel 4-0-20-0, P Awana 2-0-20-1, R Dhawan 4-0-32-0, G Maxwell 1-0-11-0
UMPIRES: N Llong (Eng), C Nandan
TV UMPIRE: A Chaudhary
MATCH REFEREE: R Madugalle (SL)