(IPL) The Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) yesterday surged to the top of the VIVO IPL 2017 standings on the back of a clinical seven-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS).
After the home team set a target of 183, KKR coasted to a win on the back of half-centuries from Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir and their mammoth partnership; KKR got past the finish line with 11 balls to spare.
Faced with an asking rate of 9.15, KKR were helped to a quick start by Sunil Narine, who struck three boundaries in his quickfire 16. Uthappa joined Gambhir in the third over and the two took the match away from RPS with a 158-run partnership.
They were helped along the way as the RPS fielders put down catches off both batsmen; Uthappa was dropped by Jaydev Unadkat when he was on 12, while Gambhir was dropped by Washington Sundar when he was on 32.
Uthappa was in sparkling form and made the hosts pay for their largesse; he struck seven boundaries and six huge sixes and dominated the partnership with his captain. He raced to 50 off 26 balls and then carried on to make his IPL-best score of 87 (47 balls). Gambhir faced nearly as many deliveries as Uthappa in the partnership, but only contributed 60 runs.
After Uthappa’s dismissal in the 17th over, Gambhir himself got out when he miscued a pull and holed out to mid-on; the skipper – playing his 100th IPL match as KKR captain– made 62 from 46 balls and hit six fours and a six.
IPL debutant Darren Bravo completed the honours when he creamed Shardul Thakur through covers to collect his first IPL runs and in the process took his team across the line. KKR polished off the run-chase in 18.1 overs.
Earlier in the evening, RPS had contributions from their top three that helped them to 182-5. Openers Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi continued from where they left off in Mumbai, adding another half-century partnership. RPS were 57-0 at the end of the first six overs and the openers stretched their partnership to 65 before Tripathi dragged one from the Piyush Chawla back onto his stumps; Tripathi (dropped on 0 and 35) made 38 from 23 balls – becoming the first batsman in VIVO IPL 2017 to make five consecutive scores of 30 or more.
Ajinkya Rahane was quiet at the start but made up on the scoring rate as the innings progressed; at one stage he had 27 from 28 balls, before he collected three boundaries in quick succession. Rahane (46 from 41 balls, 4 fours, 1 six) was dismissed in the 13th over when he was beaten in flight by Narine and Uthappa was quick in breaking the stumps.
Rahane was involved in a 47-run partnership with captain Steven Smith, who went on to make an unbeaten 51 (37 balls, 4 fours, 1 six). Smith was busy at the crease and picked up the occasional boundary. After Rahane’s dismissal, Smith was involved in a 36-run partnership with MS Dhoni, who struck a boundary and two sixes in his 11-ball 23. Daniel Christian gave the innings some much needed impetus at the end and took the team past the 180-run mark; the all-rounder collected consecutive sixes off Chris Woakes in the 19th over before being dismissed off the last ball of the innings.
For KKR, the spin-trio of Narine, the recalled Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav accounted for four wickets while Umesh Yadav chipped in with one. The spinners received good support from Uthappa, who effected three stumpings, in the process becoming only the second wicket-keeper to pull off three stumpings in an IPL innings.
Rising Pune Supergiant: 182-5 (Steven Smith 51*, Ajinkya Rahane 46, Rahul Tripathi 38, Kuldeep Yadav 2-31) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders: 184-3 in 18.1 overs (Robin Uthappa 87, Gautam Gambhir 62)
Man of the Match: Robin Uthappa