KOLKATA: Kolkata Knight Riders shrugged off a spirited challenge by Sourav Ganguly-led Pune Warriors to coast to a seven-run win in a thrilling IPL clash at the Eden Gardens today.
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 off 36) and Brendon McCullum (42 off 43) to post 150-5 and then contained Warriors to 143-8.
Replying to the Knight Riders’ challenge, Pune Warriors began with a double jolt, losing openers Michael Clarke (one) and Robin Uthappa (16) in the 2nd and 4th overs respectively. The flow of wickets continued as Manish Pandey (17) and Mithun Manhas (one) 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). With half the side back in the dugout, the onus was on Ganguly to play the proverbial captain’s knock.
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 off 35) 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 off 27) 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 Sunil 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.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.
Mathews (2-17) was the pick of bowlers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2-26) and Murli Kartik (1-22) were the other wicket-takers.