The Gautam Gambhir-Robin Uthappa show continued its successful run, helping Kolkata Knight Riders register its third win of the season with a six-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab here on Tuesday.
It was supposed to be a battle of big bats but, chasing a below-par 139-run target, KKR cruised with an 82-run partnership for the first wicket.
That set the template, and by the time Uthappa (53) and Gambhir (34) were gone, there was little left for the rest of the batsmen to do than finish off the game, which they duly did in 17.1 overs.
The duo smashed every bowler to all corners of the field. Most of the shots were impeccable, controlled and power-packed as the KXIP captain David Miller ran out of bowling options.
With a boundary in every over till Uthappa fell — misreading the turn and caught plumb in front by Pardeep Sahu — KKR raced to 93 in 10 overs, effectively sealing the game.
Gambhir followed, caught brilliantly at midwicket by a running, diving Glenn Maxwell. That, however, was to be the only high point for KXIP in the second innings. Despite a couple of wickets in the middle and a slump in the scoring, the KKR openers had done enough for their team.
Marsh shines, others fail
Earlier KXIP faltered with the bat yet again. Shaun Marsh finally came good for the host, scoring an unbeaten 56, but the rest of its big names did not.
KXIP, relying too much on its opening pair of M. Vijay and Manan Vohra, could not find the men to step up once the two fell early.
Gambhir, opting to field, wanted Morkel to open the bowling from one end but was denied by the umpires after having initially decided to begin from the other end.
That meant Morkel had to wait till the fourth over to get into action, and was immediately rewarded with the wicket of Vohra, who found Shakib Al Hasan at midwicket.
That started a slide from which KXIP did not recover.
Maxwell, who had helped the team complete a tricky chase in the previous game, failed while Miller’s poor form continued, and that left the lower-order with too much to do.
Gambhir kept changing his bowlers and kept reaping the dividends, picking up wickets every time Marsh tried to accelerate.
In fact, KXIP should be grateful to Gambhir for throwing the ball to Andre Russell in the last over of the innings. The Jamaican went for 18 runs in his only over, including a six each from Marsh and Kyle Abbott, pushing the total up to a respectable level.
However, the battle of big bats just didn’t materialise.
KXIP 138/8 (20.0 Ovs)
KKR 141/4 (17.1 Ovs)
Kolkata Knight Riders won by 6 wkts
PLAYER OF THE MATCH:- Robin Uthappa