Gautam Gambhir's 47-ball knock of 60 proved to be the match-winning innings for Kolkata Knight Riders in their five-wicket win over Lahore Lions © IANS (File Photo)
Gautam Gambhir’s 47-ball knock of 60 proved to be the match-winning innings for Kolkata Knight Riders in their five-wicket win over Lahore Lions © IANS (File Photo)

By Amit Banerjee

Sep 21, 2014

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) romped to a four-wicket victory over Lahore Lions by chasing down the 152-run target with ease in the seventh match of the ongoing Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) at the Rajiv Gandhi stadium at Hyderabad. Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa were the highlight of the KKR batting with scores of 60 and 46 respectively.

KKR’s batting performance, especially by the opening batsmen, was a big improvement from their previous encounter against Chennai Super Kings in which they were reduced to 51 for the loss of five 5 wickets at one stage, before the middle-order came to the rescue for KKR to register a three-wicket win. The openers, Gambhir and Uthappa added 100 runs for the first wicket before the winning runs were brought up by Suryakumar Yadav. Though the wickets started to tumble once they were gone, the foundation was pretty much established.

Lahore Lions  had earlier finished at a score of 151 for the loss of 7 wickets at the end of their quota of 20 overs against KKR.  Ahmed Shehzad top-scored for Lahore with a gritty 59 from 42 balls, while Sunil Narine was the pick of the bowlers with a haul of three wickets for 9 runs.

The innings began on a strong note for the Lahore Lions as Ahmed Shehzad and Nasir Jamshed put on a fifty-run opening stand in less than seven overs as the KKR bowlers Pat Cummins and Andre Russell were smashed all over the park. It was mostly a Shehzad-show who kept the fours and sixes going. Lahore experienced their first jolt when Jamshed was run-out courtesy a brilliant direct hit from Russell.

Skipper Mohammad Hafeez did not last long either as he top-edged a well-flighted delivery from Kuldeep Yadav to give the latter his maiden wicket for KKR. While Shehzad kept the runs flowing for some more time, his dismissal was a major blow for Lahore as he holed a catch to Robin Uthappa at long-on off the bowling of Piyush Chawla.

Shehzad’s dismissal began a sudden flurry of dismissals as the Lahore Lions were reduced from 91 for two to 103 for six. At this point, Narine nearly became the first bowler in the ongoing tournament and the second overall in the CLT20 history to take a hattrick.

Narine eventually finished with remarkable figures of 4-1-9-3 and played a major role in restricting the Lahore run-fest. It was Umar Akmal and Wahab Riaz‘s late charge that took them past the 150-run mark. The last over by Pat Cummins cost KKR 16 runs courtesy two fours and a six, though Cummins managed to dismiss Akmal off the last ball. The latter scored a valuable 40 from 24 balls in a knock that contained three fours and a six.

The KKR innings began on a solid note when Gambhir began the offensive early against the Lahore attack and took them to task. The fifty-run partnership was brought up in no time and Uthappa soon joined the run-fest with the big hits. Aside from the lacklustre performance by the bowlers, Lahore produced a below-par performance in its fielding department, not much of an improvement from that of KKR earlier. 

One milestone after another came Kolkata’s way as Gambhir brought up his half-century, his return to form after quite a long time, and the openers brought up the 100-run stand. It looked likely for Kolkata to chase the target down without losing a single wicket. That however was not to happen as Adnan Rasool struck the first blow for the Knight Riders by bowling Uthappa out.

Gambhir joined Uthappa soon after in the pavilion after he missed the line while attempting a push towards the cover region. His dismissal was followed by a series of dismissals, most of which were careless shots by the batsmen. When Andre Russell departed for a score of one when the scoreboard read 147 for the loss of six wickets, there might have been a though or two about a close finish or Lahore possibly clinching a victory from that point.

Victory was eventually served on Kolkata’s plate as Suryakumar Yadav and Cummins saw to it that they did not commit any further mistakes and saw their team home. Yadav took the team home with a four off the bowling of Asif Raza in the final over.

KKR now have eight points from two games and sit at the top of Group A and are likely to be one of the first teams to enter the semi-finals, the other being Kings XI Punjab. Lahore Lions on the other hand have recieved their first jolt in the group stage and have to come back strongly in the remainder of the matches if they are to stay afloat in the tournament.

Brief scores:

Lahore Lions 151 for 7 in 20 overs (Ahmed Shehzad 59, Umar Akmal 40; Sunil Narine 3 for 9) lost to  Kolkata Knight Riders  153 for 6 in 19.2 overs (Robin Uthappa 46, Gautam Gambhir 60; Aizaz Cheema 2 for 42) by 4 wickets.

Man of the Match: Sunil Narine

Full Scorecard

Complete coverage of Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014 here

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, traveling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)