Kolkata, May 22 (IANS): The Robin Uthappa juggernaut rolled on as he hit a blistering unbeaten 83 off 51 balls to power Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to the play-offs with a 30-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Eden Gardens here Thursday.
Chasing an imposing target of 196, RCB could not recover from a disastrous start and kept losing wickets at crucial intervals to end up at 165/5 to dash their hopes of entering the knock-out stage of the IPL.
For the Royals, Yogesh Takawale top scored with 45 while Knight’s champion offie Sunil Narine finished with figures of 4/20.
Up against the mammoth score, Royal Challengers started off disastrously when the big hitting Chris Gayle 6 (9b 1×4) was trapped in front by Umesh Yadav in the second over sending his teammates and a capacity Eden crowd into a tizzy. Yadav and Morne Morkel bowled tightly as RCB meandered to 17/1 at the end of four overs. But Yogesh Takawale who replaced regular keeper and opener Parthiv Patel for the match, hit Morkel for three crisp boundaries to give the chase some momentum.
The duo of skipper Virat Kohli and Takawale adopted a cautious approach mixed with aggression to take RCB to 50/1 at the end of the eighth over. As the pair looked set to bail their side out of trouble, Knight Riders trump card Narine hit a double whammy in the 13th over removing both Kohli and Takawale. Kohli 38 (31b 3×4 1×6) was out caught at third man while Takawale 45 (36b 5×4 1×6) was castled as the scoreboard read 93/3 and RCB needing another 103 runs from just seven overs.
Narine hit a twin blow again in the 17th over removing Yuvraj Singh 22 (12b 1×4 2×6) out caught and AB de Villiers 13 (13b 1×4) out bowled, to take the wind out of RCB’s sails. For the home side Umesh Yadav 1/45 was the other wicket taker. Earlier put in to bat first, KKR overcame initial hiccups as Uthappa and Shakib stitched together a 121-run partnership for the fourth wicket to post an imposing 195/4.
KKR started off badly losing skipper Gautam Gambhir in the very first over and were in a spot of bother at 56/3 when Shakib 60 (38b 5×4 3×6) joined hands with Uthappa as the duo went from strength to strength hitting the bowlers to all parts of the ground.