Notching a record seventh consecutive 40-plus score in the IPL, Robin Uthappa (67 off 39 balls) helped the Kolkata Knight Riders register a massive eight-wicket win over the Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens. The KKR opener gave his team a match-winning start in their chase of CSK’s 154-run total. And later, the home team’s cause was furthered by Shakib Al Hasan (46 off 21 balls), who ensured his team got over the line with 12 balls to spare.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir won the toss and opted to field first. The KKR bowlers vindicated their skipper’s decision by bowling a great couple of overs up front. In fact, debutant Pat Cummins bowled a wicket-maiden to kick start his IPL career; the Australian pacer cleaned up Dwayne Smith (5) in the second over. However, Brendon McCullum, with support from Suresh Raina, launched a counterattack. Thanks to a couple of big hits, the duo managed to negate the early damage and added 35 runs in the powerplay and even brought up the CSK fifty in the eighth over.
But McCullum (28) fell prey to Sunil Narine in the 11th over. Raina and Faf du Plessis then carved out a 62-run partnership, which saw them take the CSK score past the 100-run mark in the 15th over. However, both batsmen departed in quick succession; first, du Plessis was run-out in the 17th over, and then, Chawla dismissed Raina (65), after he had scored an innings-steadying half-century. And then, despite MS Dhoni (21) and Ravindra Jadeja’s (9*) best efforts in the final few overs, the Super Kings could only tally 154 for four in 20 overs against a very disciplined KKR bowling attack.
In response, Robin Uthappa gave his team yet another big start. With Gautam Gambhir at the other end, the wicketkeeper-batsman scored the lion’s share of the 64-run first-wicket stand. Thanks to his efforts, KKR posted 52 runs in the powerplay itself. And while the home team lost Gambhir (21) in the seventh over, Uthappa kept chipping away at the target with routine boundaries – he struck a staggering 10 fours and one maximum during his 39-ball innings. He got out in the 12th over, off the bowling of Jadeja, with KKR’s score on 98.
But by the time Uthappa departed, his side was in the driver’s seat and they were helped over the line by the third-wicket pair of Manish Pandey (18*) and Shakib Al Hasan (46*). While the former played a great supporting role, Shakib stepped on the accelerator as he struck six fours and two sixes during his 21-ball blitz. He even struck the winning four at the end of the 18th over to take KKR to yet another big win in Pepsi IPL 2014.
As a result of this victory, KKR now have 14 points from 12 games and are trailing the Rajasthan Royals – who are currently placed third and have the same number of points – based on their net run-rate alone.
Man of the Match: Robin Uthappa for his match-winning half-century