Kolkata Knight Riders became the third team to make it to the Pepsi IPL 2014 Playoffs, thanks to their 30-run win against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. After Robin Uthappa (83 off 51 balls) and Shakib Al Hasan (60 off 38 balls) helped KKR to 195 for four, Sunil Narine (4-0-20-4) led the charge for the home side to clock in a massive win.
Earlier, Virat Kohli asked the hosts to bat first after winning the toss at Eden Gardens. Mitchell Starc then dealt an early blow by dismissing Gautam Gambhir (4) in the first over itself. Manish Pandey (13) was the next man to depart; Ashok Dinda claimed his scalp, leaving KKR on 23 for two in 3.4 overs. However, Robin Uthappa continued his good run in the tournament. He initially played second fiddle to Yusuf Pathan as the duo took the score past the 50-run mark in the seventh over. However, after Yusuf (22) was run out shortly thereafter, Uthappa came into his own. With Shakib Al Hasan at the other end, the KKR opener scripted yet another valuable knock for his side.
The duo took their team’s score past the 100-run mark in the 12th over. And a couple of overs later, Uthappa brought up his half-century – his fifth this season. Meanwhile, even Shakib was going great guns; he also struck routine fours and sixes to take KKR to the 150 mark in the 16th over. His fifty came up soon after with a strike to the boundary. However, Shakib’s (60) 38-ball knock ended in the 19th over when Abu Nechim cleaned him up. However, Uthappa (83*) stayed unbeaten till the end – claiming the Orange Cap in the process – and along with Ryan ten Doeschate (6*) helped KKR put up 195 for four in 20 overs. In fact, the home team scored 109 runs for the loss of just one wicket in the second half of their innings.
RCB’s response to KKR’s massive total was anything but ideal. The visitors just scored one run off the first over, and after picking up five from the first five balls of the next, they lost Chris Gayle (6), who was trapped leg-before by Umesh Yadav. Then, Yogesh Takawale and Virat Kohli tried to get RCB’s run-chase back on track. Capitalising on the limited opportunities offered by the KKR bowlers, the two batters brought up the team’s 50 in the eighth over. But they then unleashed, plundering 17 runs off the next over and taking the RCB score to 72 at the halfway stage.
But just when it looked like they were building something special, Kohli (38) perished; Sunil Narine got rid of the RCB skipper in the 13th over. And a couple of deliveries later, the wily spinner got the better of Takawale (45) as well. With the scorecard reading 93 for three in 13 overs, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers came together. But they were unable to accelerate immediately, and with five overs remaining, RCB were still 90 runs adrift of the target.
That is when Yuvraj (22) unleashed and played a vital role in plundering 22 runs off the 16th over. However, the southpaw was sent back by Narine in the next. And yet again, the off-spinner dealt a double-blow as he bowled out de Villiers off the last ball of his over to finish with stunning figures of four for 20 and reclaiming the Purple Cap. And while Sachin Rana (19*) and Starc (12*) added 32 runs for the sixth wicket, they could not avoid a 30-run loss. Thanks to this win, KKR qualified for the Playoffs with one more league fixture to go.
Man of the Match: Robin Uthappa for yet another match-winning half-century