Gujarat Lions wrested back both their top spot and winning touch with a comprehensive five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata yesterday.
Dinesh Karthik’s busy half-century and a string of cameos sealed Lions’ seventh win with 12 balls to spare, after their bowlers, led by Praveen Kumar, restricted Kolkata to 158-4 after being sent in.
Earlier, an unbeaten 134-run fifth-wicket stand between all-rounders Shakib Al Hasan and Yusuf Pathan helped the Kolkata Knight Riders reach a respectable total.
From 24 for 4, Shakib (66 not out off 49 balls) and Yusuf (63 not out off 41), rescued Kolkata from a position of dire straits to reach a competitive total. Shakib’s composed knock
was studded with four boundaries and as many sixes, while Pathan hit just one massive six besides seven hits to the fence.
Having been asked to bat first,
KKR were in all sort of trouble early on, losing four wickets inside the first six overs.
Captain Gautam Gambhir was the first to depart when he was bowled by swing bowler Praveen Kumar in the third over for five. Kumar then struck again two balls later when Manish Pandey (0) nicked off an outswinger to wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik.
An over later, KKR found themselves in further trouble as opener Robin Uthappa (14) got a faint tickle on a Dhawal Kulkarni delivery which was gobbled up behind the stumps by Karthik.
Captain Suresh Raina made a big call to use medium pacer Dwayne Smith as first change bowler and it paid off almost immediately.
Off the fifth ball of Smith’s over, the West Indian removed Suryakumar Yadav (4), thanks to a screamer of a catch from Raina. Yadav attempted a ramp over slip and Raina leaped high into the Eden Gardens sky to grab a cracking one-handed catch.
From 24-4, Shakib and Pathan took charge of the rescue operation. The duo proceeded to put the Lions under pressure immediately, with Pathan in particular being brutal with the willow. With the scoring moving briskly and the wickets column lying dormant, KKR were allowed to make a push at the death.
The last five overs proved very profitable for KKR as Yusuf and Shakib smashed 60 runs. Shakib in particular favoured death bowling specialist Dwayne Bravo, launching him for two maximums in the 18th over and then smashing another in the final over.
Kumar finished as the pick of the bowlers with 2-19 in his four overs, while Kulkarni (1-30 in 4 overs) and Smith (1-14 in 2 overs) also made decent contributions.
Kolkata skipper Gambhir said they fell short by 20-30 runs on a good batting wicket: “I think the way Shakib and Yusuf batted, they got us to a total we could bowl at but it was still 20-30 runs short.
“We didn’t start well, we could have batted more cleverly. Credit goes to Praveen and Dhawal, you need to pick wickets early and they did that. We started with fast bowlers but Brendon and Dwayne had a go at everything. We tried to take the pace off but against them nothing works. Dinesh batted really well for them.”
Gujarat’s seventh win in 11 games comes after three back-to-back defeats, while Kolkata, with six wins from 10 games, slip to third in the points standings.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 158 for 4 (Shakib Al Hasan 66*, Yusuf Pathan 63*; Praveen Kumar 2/19) lost to Gujarat Lions: 164 for 5 in 18 overs (Dinesh Karthik 51, B McCullum 29, A Finch 29, D Smith 27) by 5 wickets
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