Gautam Gambhir scored a third consecutive fifty in the IPL 2014 © PTI (File Photo)
By Nishad Pai Vaidya
May 11, 2014
Kolkata Knight Riders romped home to a comprehensive nine-wicket victory against the Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 match at the Barabati Stadium, Cuttack. It was yet another complete performance by Kolkata as the bowlers restricted Punjab to 149 on a good surface and then Gautam Gambhir led the way to seal the run-chase successfully.
Many were surprised when Gambhir won the toss and chose to bowl on a good deck. But, his bowlers repaid his faith and did not allow a dangerous batting side to run-away with the contest. And, to make things more interesting, Kolkata had dropped Shakib Al Hasan, who has been successful for them in previous games. But, the men who came in also made a significant contribution.
The Punjab innings was a tale of two halves. In the first ten overs, they smashed 85, having lost only two wickets. But, in the last ten, they could only muster 64, losing seven wickets along the way. Virender Sehwag was the top-scorer with his 74, but none of the other batsmen scored more than 15. It does reflect the kind of good work put in by the Kolkata bowlers to restrict Punjab.
One would say the wheels came off when Glenn Maxwell swept Piyush Chawla down square-leg’s throat in the 11th over. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals that hindered their progress. Chawla was the start with three for 19 in his spell and Morne Morkel had done the job in the early part of the innings with two for 22.
Sehwag had a lucky day in the middle with chances falling in no-man’s land and edges going to the boundary. But, he did play a few delightful strokes during his innings, reaching his half-century in 35 balls. Kolkata made the mistake of straying down his pads a few times and he had no problems in guiding them along. Until he was there in the 15th over, Punjab were looking threatening, but once Chawla got him, it was a struggle.
Kolkata’s openers Gambhir and Robin Uthappa came to the crease with a lot of confidence at the back of their two century stands in previous games. And, it was Uthappa who started aggressively and set the tone for the innings. In the fourth over, which was bowled by Mitchell Johnson, he smashed 19 runs, which included a six and three fours.
The pair dominated the powerplay again by scoring 55. Uthappa had made his way to 46 off 28 balls in the seventh when he flicked one to mid-wicket and was caught in the deep. This partnership again shows the importance of this pair to Kolkata. After Uthappa’s fall, Gambhir continued to lead Kolkata along with Manish Pandey.
Gambhir played a good sensible knock, and found the boundaries regularly. He rotated the strike well and kept the asking rate under control. Gambhir got to his half-century in 38 balls as Kolkata neared the finish line. Kolkata then sealed the deal with 12 balls to spare.
This was Gambhir’s third consecutive half-century and it is quite encouraging after he had a poor start to the tournament. This victory also comes after Kolkata beat Delhi by eight wickets in their last game. Things are starting to look better for the 2012 Champions.
Kings XI Punjab 149 for 8 in 20 overs (Virender Sehwag 74; Morne Morkel 2 for 29, Piyush Chawla 3 for 19) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 150 for 1 in 18 overs (Robin Uthappa 46, Gautam Gambhir 63*; Parwinder Awana 1 for 20) by 9 wickets.
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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)