PUNE: T20 is a game of fine margins and in such a short format, mistakes are usually punished. That’s what happened on Wednesday as Rising Pune Supergiant were made to pay heavily for two dropped catches as Kolkata Knight Riders overhauled their target of 183 with 7 wickets to spare and 11 balls still to be bowled.
Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, one of the most successful opening combos in IPL history, came together after the dismissal of Sunil Narine and guided the two-time champions home. Their 158 run stand in just 85 balls completely deflated the opposition. The scenario would have been a lot different had Jaydev Unadkat and Washington Sundar held on their catches.
Uthappa was only on 12 when he tried to slog sweep Imran Tahir for a six. He got the elevation but not the desired distance. Unadkat running in from deep midwicket completely misjudged the flight and made a mess of the chance. To make matters worse, the ball went for a boundary. He smashed 24 runs off the next 6 balls off Washington to compound the misery on the hosts. Incidentally, Uthappa, a master of the chase, is one of only two players to have over 2000 runs while chasing in the IPL.
The Karnataka batsman was the main aggressor as he smashed all Pune bowlers all over the park. His innings of 87 off only 47 balls was studded with seven boundaries and six monstrous hits over the ropes. He displayed aggression as well as silky touches in his innings which was cheered on by the 28,000 strong crowd.
It was also a day of records as Gautam Gambhir (62 off 46), in his 100th match as KKR skipper, notched up his 30th half-century in IPL as an opener, the most by any batsman. He also regained the orange cap. Even the southpaw was dropped when he was on 32. Washington being the guilty party this time. Gambhir’s decision to bowl first was vindicated as KKR with 6 wins, rose to the top of the standings on run rate. Pune remained fourth. This was KKR’s third win over the hosts in as many matches. It was also their sixth win at this venue of as many games. The MCA stadium is a happy hunting ground for the visitors.
Earlier, some lusty blows from RPS skipper Steve Smith (51 off 37 balls) and MS Dhoni and an initial blitzkrieg from Rahul Tripathi gave the RPS fans a lot of joy as Pune ended up with 182 runs off their allotted overs. It would have been more had it not been for some quality spin bowling at the death overs from KKR’s spin trio of Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav. They accounted for four RPS wickets while Umesh Yadav picked up one, his 100th in T20 games.