Kolkata Knight Riders shrugged off a spirited challenge by Sourav Ganguly-led Pune Warriors to coast to a seven-run win in a thrilling Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens Saturday.
It was the fifth consecutive win for the Knight Riders and the fourth consecutive loss for the Warriors.
Electing to bat, the winners rode on a 113-run opening wicket partnership between skipper Gautam Gambhir (56; 36b, 4×4, 2×6) and Brendon McCullum (42; 43b, 5×4, 1×6) to post 150 for five and then contained Warriors to 143 for eight in a game that swung from one end to the other at the packed Eden Gardens.
Replying to the Knight Riders’ challenge, Pune Warriors began with a double jolt, losing openers Michael Clarke (1) and Robin Uthappa (16-14b 2×4) in 2nd and 4th over respectively.
The flow of wickets continued as Manish Pandey (17-15b 2×4) and Mithun Manhas (1) departed in quick succession. Much to the dismay of all, Ganguly who usually comes at three came to the crease only after the fall of the 5th wicket – the inform Steve Smith (14-16b 1×4).
Wily offie Sunil Narine bowled a rare maiden over with Ganguly at the crease who was seemingly uncomfortable against his spinning deliveries.
With half the side back in the dugout, the onus was on Ganguly to play the proverbial captain’s knock. The wicket was getting slower and affording turn, and run-making looked increasingly difficult.
However, it was Angelo Mathews who came to party, hammering Yusuf Pathan for three consecutive sixes and bringing the target closer as only 42 was needed of the last five overs.
Ganguly (36-35b 4×4 1×6) overcame initial hiccups and looked determined before holing out in the deep off Rajat Bhatia.
With 18 needed of the last six balls the onus was on Mathews (35- 27b 3×6) to see his side home. But it was not to be, as Laxmi Ratan Shukla took a brilliant catch to douse any hopes of a miracle. Merchant de Lange with 3-34 was most successful bowler for Knight Riders but Narine was adjudged Man of the Match.
Earlier the Kolkata Knight Riders threw away a rollicking start to manage only 150/5.
Gambhir and McCullum posted the Knight Riders’ highest opening stand of all seasons, but the rest of the batsmen could not capitalise and threw away the advantage. The Pune bowlers erred in line and length and conceded a whopping 19 extras.
Gambhir, averaging 50 in the tournament, continued his good run, stroking the bowlers to all parts of the ground. He reached his 50 off just 30 balls.
As Knight Riders seemed in sight of a huge total, pressure on the Warriors seemed palpable. Ashok Dinda dropped a sitter from McCullum with the batsman on 28 and other fielders too were guilty of leaking away runs through shoddy fielding.
However, Mathews’ double strike removed McCullum and Jacques Kallis (1) in successive overs to take away much of the momentum as Pune tried to claw back into the game.
The fall of wickets continued as Knight Riders batsmen struggled to give impetus to the innings. The Knights could manage only 37 runs in the last seven overs.
Smith, with his acrobatic fielding kept the spirit of his teammates high.
Mathews (2-17) was the pick of bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-26) and Murli Kartick (1-22) were the other wicket-takers.