Kolkata: Half-centuries from Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa gave Kolkata Knight Riders a perfect launchpad before Kings XI Punjab pulled things back to restrict the hosts to a modest 164/3 in their IPL match at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday. Put into bat, the two-time former champions once again got off to solid start with Gambhir (54 from 45 balls; 6×4, 1×6) and Uthappa (70 from 49 balls; 6×4, 2×6) setting up a firm foundation in a 101-run partnership from 13.3 overs. It was their highest opening wicket stand this season, and third overall century partnership, that put them in right stead but their star duo of Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell failed to bring up their last match’s heroics to be content with a total which could have been much bigger.
KKR could score only 43 runs in the last five overs as Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell managed just 27 runs together in 19 balls. Skipper Gambhir continued his sublime form to notch up his fourth half-century of the season, while his opening partner Uthappa too followed suit for his third fifty as KKR never had any trouble against an innocuous KXIP attack. There was not a single wicket taking delivery as Vijay had to keep rotating his limited resources while Gambhir and Uthappa easily picked the loose balls on the slow surface. Restricting KKR to 40 in the powerplay was a decent effort by KXIP but the fact remained that they could not break the opening partnership with their attack lacking the sting.
As it turned out, all the three wickets to fall were runouts beginning with Gambhir, who was dismissed following a misjudgment at the non-striking end in the 14th over. Gambhir ran half way down the strip but only to turn back realising a non-existent run as Glenn Maxwell’s direct throw gave them their first breakthrough. In the same over, Uthappa, having completed his half century with a boundary through covers, was dropped by Mohit Sharma at long off boundary. PTI
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