Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders produced a clinical bowling and batting display as they crushed Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets to jump to the top of table in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
KKR bowlers first restricted KXIP to a meagre 119 for six riding on Iqbal Abdullah’s tidy spell of 2/19 before captain Gautam Gambhir led the batting charge with an unbeaten 45 from 44 balls to chase down the small target of 120 with 16 balls to spare.
Manoj Tiwary chipped in with an unbeaten 34 from 41 balls as he stitched 85 runs with Gambhir from just 75 balls for the unseparated third wicket.
Continuing his superb form, Tiwary, who averages an amazing 109.5 after seven matches in the IPL, looked at ease as he slowly got into the groove before launching into attack.
Chasing a meagre 120 for a win, KKR lost two wickets by the fifth over for 35 runs on a turning Eden Gardens pitch but Gambhir and Tiwary took the side home to 120 for two from 17.2 overs.
With the win on Saturday, their third in a row, KKR joined Mumbai Indians on top of table at 10 points from eight matches. Mumbai Indians though had played one match less.
The KKR openers Jacques Kallis (1) and Eoin Morgan (28) fell inside five overs but the asking rate never rose above five as their batsmen found at least a boundary for almost every over.
Bharghav Bhatt got the turn from the slow pitch as he removed Kallis and Morgan early to give KXIP in for a chance in the match.
Kallis fell in the second over as he checked his shot off a turning ball and but it looped to cover for an overhead catch by David Hussey.
Ryan Harris then held on a superb catch at deep midwicket to end Morgan’s cameo. He charged in from the deep and held the ball low as it was dipping on him. Morgan hit six fours in his 15-ball innings.
Despite the two early wickets, KKR cruised along and they were 71 for two at the halfway stage. KXIP captain Adam Gilchrist shuffled his bowlers but failed to contain the third wicket partnership of captain Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary.
Gambhir and Tiwary brought up their 50-run partnership from just 46 balls at the end of 12 overs. With just 35 runs required from eight overs and eight wickets remaining, KKR took control of the match though KXIP slow bowlers extracted big turns from the pitch.
The duo played sensibly, rotating strikes and hitting occasional boundaries.
Towards the end, Tiwary hoisted Piyush Chawla for a huge six in the 16th over before Gambhir hit the winning run, a single off the same bowler two overs later.