Uthappa scored a fine 42-ball 72 © IANS (File Photos)
Uthappa scored a fine 48-ball 72 © IANS (File Photos)

A good show by the top order saw Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) put up 187 runs for the loss of 5 wickets on the board in Match 23 of Indian Premier League (IPL) against Gujarat Lions (GL) at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Friday. Being put in to bat, KKR rode on a breezy cameo by Sunil Narine at the top and then a fine half-century by Robin Uthappa, which propelled them to a decent total. Skipper Gautam Gambhir also chipped in with 33 useful runs. However, with the likes of Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav and Shakib Al Hasan not getting enough balls and still only 46 runs coming from last 5 overs, KKR would feel they are 20 runs short. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Gujarat Lions – Match 23

Gujarat would be happy with the way their bowlers pegged things back. And with enough firepower  at the top, they would fancy their chances chasing 188.

Suresh Raina won the toss and elected to field first; something which Gambhir said he would also have done. Gujarat made two changes for this crucial game, bringing in Praveen Kumar and James Faulkner for Shivil Kaushik and Andre Tye, with the latter being a harsh and surprising decision. Kolkata, on the other hand, made a solitary change, replacing Colin de Grandhomme with Shakib.

With de Grandhomme out of the XI, the suspense on who shall open the innings ended with Gambhir walking out in company of Narine. The West Indian had opened for KKR in a couple of matches and hence it was not actually a surprising move. However, it definitely turned into a shocking move for GL as the pinch-hitter went hammer and tongs from the word go.

Narine did not show any discrimination while dealing with the Gujarat bowlers, hitting Praveen for 3 fours, Faulkner for 4 boundaries and Basil Thampi for 2 fours and a six during his brief stay. In virtually no time, he scored 42 off 17 — scoring all his runs in boundaries. This was also the highest score in IPL with all scoring shots in boundaries. It required out-of-the-box thinking to get rid of Narine and Gujarat skipper Suresh Raina pulled a rabbit out of the hat by introducing himself into the attack. He got the dividends as Narine fell on the very first ball he faced.

Uthappa and Gambhir then ensured that the tempo of the innings did not come down. Both the batsmen, who have enormous experience of playing together for KKR, stitched a 69-run stand for the second wicket. Gambhir was happy playing the second fiddle today, first to Narine and then to Uthappa. He scored at a rate just above run-a-ball and eventually fell trying to up the ante. Faulkner ended the KKR skipper’s stay in the middle, as a top-edge from his bat landed safely into Raina’s hands.

Manish Pandey, who has been in a terrific form this season, then walked out to bat. He took his time initially, but kept rotating the strike as Uthappa went for his shots. He even completed his fifty in the process. Uthappa played the aggressor’s role between the two, as they added 44 runs for the third wicket.

Uthappa was finally dismissed in the penultimate over, when he tried to slog Praveen out of the park, only to get caught at long-on. He scored 72 off 48 balls, which included 8 fours and 2 sixes. Pandey was cleaned up by Thampi in the last over for 24. Pathan then finished the innings, taking the final score to 187 for 5.

For Gujarat, Faulkner, Praveen and Raina picked up a wicket each, while Kulkarni and Thampi proved expensive. Thampi, however, delivered a fine last over, conceding just 7 runs and affecting 2 wickets.

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders 187 for 5 (Robin Uthappa 72, Sunil Narine 42, Gautam Gambhir 33; Suresh Raina 1 for 11, Praveen Kumar 1 for 24, James Faulkner 1 for 38) vs Gujarat Lions.