Helmed by skipper Gautam Gambhir’s unconquered 60-ball 90, Kolkata Knight Riders recorded an emphatic eight-wicket victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium here on Saturday night.
Embellished with 13 boundaries and a big hit, the Kolkata captain’s domineering knock saw his side overhaul the local squad’s 142 for six with 10 balls to spare.
A sound start to the chase was set up by Robin Uthappa, who picked the line and gaps cleanly. At the rate of a run-a-ball, the tough-as-teak opener combined well with his captain in steadily taking down the SRH attack. Shuffling five bowlers or switching their ends less than half way through did little to contain the opening charge, which grew menacing by the minute.
Although Ashish Reddy brought about the breakthrough by sending back Uthappa, the brightest spot by far in the host’s scheme was Mustafizur Rehman. Not just niggardly but nagging in accuracy, the left-arm speedster left little room for the batsmen to take liberties. A bootlace bomb from the Bangladeshi paceman bamboozled Andre Russell completely, wrecking the West Indian’s woodwork.
That David Warner chose to bat with the mercury climbing to 44 degrees Celsius at the start was not surprising. The host didn’t quite cash in on the good fortune from the toss though.
If the aerial shots were an indication, Shikhar Dhawan walked on thin ice. One slash at Morkel’s rising and seaming delivery ballooned but agile stumper Uthappa leapt up to hold the overhead chance. Fellow-opener Warner didn’t fare much better. A tad quick on the draw, his prod off Umesh Yadav was promptly picked up by Suryakumar Yadav, diving forwards at short cover.
Eoin Morgan had initial hiccups against the spinners but once primed to the drift even reverse swept Piyush Chawla. Absolutely at home against them was Naman Ojha, who slog-swept Sunil Narine into the gallery over mid-wicket.
Their fifth-wicket partnership prospered. Ojha dominated the strike though, his upper cut off Morkel sailing into the stands over the third-man signboards. Morgan revealed his own rope-clearing skills, lofting Shakib Al Hasan over long-off and Morkel over mid-wicket. Ojha fell presently, smacking Morkel to long-on where Russell popped the ball back into play and Chawla clutched the chance.
Soon after Morgan’s half-century, the left-hander hoisted Umesh wide of long-on, where he was held by Shakib. The Morgan-Ojha duet lasted a little over half an hour but was worth 67, restoring respectability to the home side’s cause, which was hardly helped by the blot of 52 dot balls.
SRH 142/7 (20.0 Ovs)
KKR 146/2 (18.2 Ovs)
Kolkata Knight Riders won by 8 wkts
PLAYER OF THE MATCH :- Gautam Gambhir