Kolkata Knight Riders moved to the top of the Indian Premier League points table with a convincing seven-wicket win against Rising Pune Supergiant on Wednesday. Two brilliant half-centuries by Robin Uthappa and captain Gautam Gambhir were enough to stamp KKR’s authority over RPS’ stokes-less bowling attack.
Robin Uthappa scored a dazzling 87 in just 47 balls with the help of six sixes whereas Gambhir played a cautious innings of 62 off 46 deliveries to ensure KKR’s win.
Earlier, Steven Smith led from the front with an unbeaten 51 to lift Pune to a challenging 182 for five. Smith's half-century came off 37 balls with the help of four boundaries and a six. Besides Smith, Ajinkya Rahane (46 off 41 balls), Rahul Tripathi (38 off 23), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (23 off 11) and Daniel Christian (16 off 6) also made useful contributions for the home team.
Left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav was the pick of the bowlers for KKR with figures of two for 31. Sent into bat, Pune made a brisk start, courtesy opener Tripathi's aggressive strokeplay.
Questions ahead for #RPS. Batting looking better, MSD is looking ominous again & Smith is in form but where are the bowlers? And catchers?— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 26, 2017
Tripathi was at his aggressive best while his experienced partner Rahane played the second fiddle. Tripahi went about his shots and luck favoured him as he got two reprieves -- first an outside in the fifth delivery of the innings which went just over wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa's reach and then Yusuf Pathan spilled a chance at long-on in the seventh over while running backwards.
During his stay at the crease Triptahi dealt mainly in boundaries and struck Sunil Narine (1/34) for three boundaries to pick up 15 runs in the sixth over.
However, Triptahi's luck ran out shortly as he under-edged a Piyush Chawla (1/36) googly on to his stumps soon. Tripathi's dismissal hardly had any effect on Pune Supergiant's scoring rate as Rahane and skipper Smith struck a boundary each in every over thereafter.
But Rahane fell four runs short of his second IPL 10 fifty when he was stumped by Uthappa off Narine's bowling. Rahane's wicket brought in Dhoni who made his intentions clear from the onset.
Dhoni struck Chawla to the midwicket boundary in the third ball of the 15th over and then followed it up with a huge hit over long-off boundary off the next ball.
Dhoni continued his onslaught and clobbered Kuldeep Yadav for another six in the next over. But a brilliant 18th over from Kuldeep Yadav and some fine glove work by Uthappa derailed Pune Supergiant's surge.
Kuldeep Yadav foxed Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary with two beautiful googlies and Uthappa was quick to whip off the bails to dismiss the batsmen. Just when it seemed KKR had managed to pull things back, Smith and Christian stepped on the accelerator and accumulated 30 runs off the last two overs, that included consecutive sixes by the latter off Chris Woakes, to take Pune beyond the 180-run mark.
(With inputs from PTI)