Kolkata Knight Riders firmed up its position at the top of the heap, winning a thriller against Rising Pune Supergiants by two wickets for its fourth victory in five IPL 2016 matches.
Umesh Yadav smashed a six over long-on for the winning runs with just three balls left to take it to 162 for eight in reply to the 160 scored by the home side.
Suryakumar Yadav’s calculated 60 for the Knight Riders justified his promotion to number three, easing nerves in the dressing room after early shocks, including a Gautam Gambhir run out.
Rival skipper M.S. Dhoni kept the heat on the visitors, even as spinner M. Aswhin and medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia responded.
Albie Morkel’s first-ball dismissal of Robin Uthappa disrupted the visitors’ gameplan before Gambhir’s run out, challenging Saurabh Tiwary’s throwing arm going for the second run, put the skids on the chase and raised hopes in the home team ranks.
The Knight Riders, however, replied with 59 for two in the six overs, far ahead of Supergiants’ 31 for one at that stage.
Earlier, Rahane played the lone hand for the home side, adapting to conditions and the frequent bowling changes by the Knight Riders.
His sublime form helped put together a face-saving total, his knock of 67 off 52 balls laced with well-timed strokes.
He looked assured in judgement against pace early on, decisive in footwork when the spinners came on, reading the ball off the bowler’s hand and creating space for cuts and pulls.
Rahane middling the ball well spelt trouble for the visitors as he cleared the ropes at will. He whipped two big shots over mid-wicket off Morne Morkel, relishing the bounce off the track. Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine joined the attack in the PowerPlay, reflecting captain Gambhir’s confidence in the duo.
Shakib delivered soon with a ball pitching on middle and snaking across into the off-stump, leaving Faf du Plessis stunned.
Smith joined Rahane in a second wicket stand that soothed nerves in the dressing room as Supergiants reached 61 for one at the halfway mark.
Dhoni promoted Albie Morkel to rack up the run-rate in the last five overs. He replaced Thisara Perera, who was deceived by a slower ball from R. Sathish. Narine stepped in to lure Rahane into hitting a tame return catch. Yadav’s stump-to-stump line paid off against Morkel’s wild swing.
Rising Pune Supergiants: Ajinkya Rahane c & b Narine 67 (52b, 4x4, 3x6), Faf du Plessis b Shakib 4 (9b), Steve Smith run out 31 (28b, 2x4), Thisara Perera b Sathish 12 (9b, 1x6), Albie Morkel b Umesh 16 (9b, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 23 (12b, 2x4, 1x6), Rajat Bhatia (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-4, lb-2): 6; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 160.
Fall of wickets: 1-24 (du Plesss), 2-80 (Smith), 3-99 (Perera), 4-119 (Rahane), 5-133 (Morkel).
Knight Riders bowling: Morne Morkel 3-0-30-0, Andre Russell 2-0-16-0, Shakib-al Hasan 3-0-14-0, Sunil Narine 4-0-31-1, Rajagopal Sathish 3-0-20-1, Umesh Yadav 2-0-16-1.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Robin Uthappa lbw b Morkel 0 (1b), Gautam Gambhir run out 11 (5b, 2x4), Suryakumar Yadav lbw b M. Ashwin 60 (49b, 6x4, 2x6), Shakib-Al Hasan b Bhatia 3 (9b), Yusuf Pathan lbw b Bhatia 36 (27b, 2x4, 2x6), Andre Russell c du Plessis b Perera 17 (11b, 2x6), R. Sathish b Morkel 10 (8b, 1x6), Piyush Chawla c Smith b Perera 8 (5b, 1x4), Umesh Yadav (not out) 7 (2b, 1x6), Sunil Narine (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (w-10): 10; Total (for eight wkts. in 19.3 overs): 162.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Uthappa), 2-31 (Gambhir), 3-60 (Shakib), 4-111 (Yusuf), 5-119 (Suryakumar), 6-139 (Russell), 7-151 (Sathish), 8-156 (Chawla).
Supergiants bowling: Albie Morkel 3-0-36-2, Thisara Perera 3.3-0-28-2, R. Ashwin 2-0-21-0, Rajat Bhatia 4-0-19-2, Ankit Sharma 3-0-26-0, M. Ashwin 4-0-32-1.
Toss: Knight Riders.
Man-of-the-Match: Suryakumar Yadav.
Knight Riders won by two wickets with three balls remaining