Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders rode skipper Gautam Gambhir and surprise opener Sunil Narine’s heroics to register a facile eight-wicket win with 21 balls to spare over Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.
Chasing 171 for victory after asking Kings XI to bat first, Gambhir (72, 49b; 11×4) notched up his 33rd IPL fifty to guide his team through for their second win in three matches.
Gambhir, in the process, equalled the record of most half-centuries in IPL history along with Sunrisers Hyderabad’s David Warner. Manish Pandey (25, 16b; 2×4, 1×6) hit a six off Marcus Stoinis for the winning runs.
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 13, 2017
Narine (37; 18b 4×4 3×6), who opened the batting much to everyone’s surprise along with Gambhir, vindicated his team’s decision by helping the hosts get off to a great start.
The mystery spinner, who has opened the batting three times for Melbourne Renegades in the last Big Bash League, showed no signs of rustiness hitting Varun Aaron two consecutive sixes and a boundary.
The pair engineered a 76-run opening partnership — KKR’s highest in Powerplay — before Aaron got his man as Narine attempted a pull but holed out to Axar Patel at deep midwicket.
Narine walked back to the pavillion to a standing ovation from the packed crowd.
Uthappa (26; 16b 3×4 1×6) could not convert his start, falling to Patel as he missed a harmless straight delivery.
KKR though were in control of their chase throughout as Gambhir looked in sublime form.
Earlier, fit-again Umesh Yadav started his Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on a high by taking four crucial wickets to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 170/9.
Yadav returned figures of 4/33 with a stellar 18th over where he took three wickets in the space of four balls to send set David Miller (28; 19b 2×4 2×6), Wriddhiman Saha (25; 17b 2×4 2×6) and Axar Patel (0) back in the hut.
Earlier, he took the wicket of visiting captain Glenn Maxwell 25 (14b 3×4 1×6) also.
There were two 50-run partnerships for the visitors — between Manan Vohra (28; 19b 4×4 1×6) and Hashim Amla (25; 27b, 4×4, 0x6) and Saha and Miller — but none of the batsmen could convert their starts as the home side got wickets at regular intervals.
Put in, Kings XI Punjab were off to a flying start with 10 runs from first over as openers Vohra and Amla put on their second successive fifty-plus opening partnership. Vohra was dropped on 17 by Narine off Trent Boult.