Brilliant bowling by the pace duo of Umesh Yadav and Morne Morkel, followed by skipper Gautam Gambhir’s superb half-century, powered Kolkata Knight Riders to a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL match.
The Knight Riders took early control by reducing the Sunrisers to 50 for four in 10 overs before Eoin Morgan led the fight-back with a breezy 51 off 43 balls to help the hosts, who elected to bat first, reach a respectable 142 for seven in their allotted 20 overs.
The visiting team made a fantastic start in the run-chase with openers Robin Uthappa (38) and Gambhir (90 not out) putting on 92 runs for the first wicket.
There was no stopping the Knight Riders charge after the fine start and they reached the target in 18.2 overs with Gambhir remaining unconquered on a well-made 90 off just 60 balls, embellished with 13 fours and a six.
Gambhir finished off the game in style by hitting a boundary off Karn Sharma to take the team to 146 for two with 10 balls to spare.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, the Sunrisers lost four of their top five batsmen with only 50 runs on board, including that of skipper David Warner’s (13) wicket.
They were revived by Morgan and Naman Ojha (37 off 28 balls) as the duo put on a solid fifth wicket stand of 67 runs together off just 47 deliveries to take the team to a respectable total.
Pace duo of Umesh (3/28) and Morkel (2/35) did their job to perfection as they ran through the Sunrisers top order.
Out-of-form opener Shikhar Dhawan (6) was the first to depart in the third over when KKR wicketkeeper Uthappa took a smart catch off Morkel’s bowling.
Warner, who got a life in the very first over of the match as he benifitted from a no ball delivery, failed to capitalise on it and gave away his wicket to Umesh with fielder Suryakumar Yadav diving forward to grab it. Warner’s 13 off 12 balls included two boundaries.
Umesh inflicted more misery on the Sunrisers by seeing off Moises Henriques (6) in his next over. Hyderabad outfit’s promising young acquisition—Deepak Hooda (6) -- too did not last long as he was caught at the long on off a slower delivery from Andre Russel in the 10th over.
Morgan and Ojha steadied the boat and played some fine shots to bring the crowd to life here at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket stadium.
Morgan’s knock was studded with three boundaries and two sixes, while Ojha’s innings included two fours and an equal number of sixes.
It was Morkel who broke the partnership by dismissing Ojha and then Umesh struck again to end Morgan’s innings.
Ashish Reddy contributed a useful 13, including a huge six.
In reply, Knight Riders got off to a steady start with openers Uthappa and Gambhir raising 86 by the end of 11 overs.
The two played with a lot of responsibility, hitting occasional fours off the loose balls.
Gambhir, however, showed his prowess in an over from Karn Sharma when he hit three consecutive fours to steal 14 runs from the 11th over.
Uthappa, who was the more subdued of the two, finally got out lbw with Ashish Reddy claiming his wicket.
One-down Andre Russell (2) failed to sustain and Knight Riders suddenly lost two wickets in successive overs.
However, Gambhir continued and in the able company of Manish Sharma (11 not out) took the team home. Reddy and Mustafizur Rahman took wicket apiece for the Sunrisers.