Riding on Robin Uthappa’s gritty half-century and spinners’ contribution, Kolkata Knight Riders today secured a 17-run win over defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in their Indian Premier League match and climbed to the top of the table in Kolkata on Saturday
Defending a tricky 173 on a lively Eden track, KKR spin trio of Kuldeep Yadav (1/23), Sunil Narine (1/18) and Yusuf Pathan (1/2) gave vital breakthroughs to dent the chase of the Sunrisers and hand the team its second successive win at home.
For the Sunrisers, who began their campaign with back- to-back victories at home, this was their second defeat on the trot.
David Warner (26 off 30; 4×4) and Shikhar Dhawan (23 off 22; 4×4) gave Sunrisers a flying start with 45 from six overs but part-time spinner Pathan turned it around by removing the Indian left-hander en route to his impressive figures of 1-0- 2-1.
Brought in place of Piyush Chawla, chinaman Kuldeep then made his presence felt. He along with Narine accounted for 22 dot balls in the middle overs to put brakes in their chase.
India’s 2011 World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh provided some to Sunrisers’ chase, hammering two sixes and two fours en route to his 16-ball 26.
But Chris Woakes (2/49) dismissed him as substitute Rishi Dhawan took a brilliant running catch at long-on.
Sunrisers needed 30 runs in the last over and Trent Boult (1/33) conceded just 12 to ensure a comfortable win for KKR.
The Kolkata outfit also maintained their clean record at home, winning five out of five in an overall 7-3 win-defeat record against the title-holders.
The surprise breakthrough not only put brakes on scoring but was enough to create pressure in the ranks as KKR went on to strike two wickets — Dhawan and Warner — in four overs for 14 runs.
Earlier, put in to bat by Sunrisers, Robin Uthappa struck a gritty 68 from 39 balls to help KKR recover from a jittery start and post 172 for 6.
The two-time champions had the worst start of the season with just 40 for 2 in the Powerplay after Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/20) and Rashid Khan (1/29) dismissed Sunil Narine and Gautam Gambhir respectively in six overs.
However, Sunrisers failed to make further in-roads in the middle overs with the Karnataka duo of Uthappa and Manish Pandey putting on a solid 77-run partnership from 52 balls.
Uthappa struck four sixes and five boundaries while Pandey cleverly rotated the strikes as Kolkata reached 100 in 12.4 overs.
After Uthappa’s departed, Pandey (46 from 35 balls; 3×4, 2×6) looked to break free but Bhuvneshwar denied him a second successive fifty.
In an exceptional display during the death bowling, Bhuvneshwar also cleaned up Colin de Grandhomme for a duck with an inswining yorker.
Orange Cap holder for being the current leading run- getter of season 10, Gambhir, was cleaned up by Afghan legspinner Khan in his first over for 15 runs.
Promoting Narine as-an-opener strategy did not work this time around as Bhuvneshwar brilliantly set him up before castling him with a yorker.
The left-hander, who took the IPL by storm with his 18- ball 37 as an opener to set up an eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab two days ago at the same venue, looked out of sorts with Bhuvneshwar bowling him round the wicket.
Bhuvneshwar had an excellent first spell of 2-0-7-1 as KKR faced 14 dot balls inside four overs to be at 20 for one.
Sunrisers captain Warner brought in his trump card — spinner Khan — in the last over before Powerplay and the legspinner struck again in his first over with the big wicket of Gambhir.
Khan started off with seven runs from his first three balls with Uthappa hammering him for a six over long-on.
Gambhir also looked to break free but the ball went straight to unsettle his middle-stump.
But all the good work by Bhuvneshwar and Khan was undone by the likes of Ashish Nehra (1/35), who bowled three wides and Moises Henriques whose selection in place of Bangladeshi off-cutter specialist Mustafizur Rahman raised a few eyebrows.
Henriques was the most expensive Sunrisers bowler, conceding 26 from his two overs.
(All images: BCCI / IPL)