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 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 today, 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.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab lost their grip after a brilliant start as KKR restricted them to 119 for six. Put into bat under damp conditions following a spell of showers in the afternoon, the Punjab outfit began dangerously with skipper Adam Gilchrist giving a rollicking start taking on his former Australia teammate Brett Lee.
Just when the KXIP top-order looked like to explode, Iqbal Abdulla (2/19) and Yusuf Pathan (1/24) put brakes as KKR fought back by sending the visiting side top-order packing in front of a near capacity crowd.
Dinesh Karthik played a responsible run-a-ball innings of 42 that had four boundaries. But, in trying to improve the run rate in the death overs, he ran himself out, KXIP`s third of the day, to set a seemingly easy target for the home side.
After a watchful start, Gilchrist hit Lee for a six and a four for 13 runs in one over to set the tempo for KXIP. Gilchrist looked in fine touch, while Paul Valthaty did well to rotate the strike to put pressure on KKR.
With 22 for no loss after three overs, KXIP had set the ball rolling but could not sustain the momentum against Knight Riders slow bowlers.
The duo of Pathan and Abdulla not only slowed down the run-rate but they did well in dismissing the dangerous looking KXIP top three -- Valthaty (7), Shaun Marsh (5) and Gilchrist (26) -- for the addition of just 12 runs.
From 32 for no loss after 4.2 overs, KXIP were reduced to 44/3 after 7.5 overs as Knight Riders did a superb turnaround. Part-time off-spinner Pathan extracted good bounce and turn, while Abdulla was equally tidy with his left-arm spin.
Pathan gave the breakthrough, scalping Valthaty while in the very next over the in-form Marsh perished as a misunderstanding with Gilchrist resulted to a run-out.
The worse followed soon when Abdulla bowled Gilchrist in between the legs to open up the KXIP middle-order. Another run out followed -- this time of Abhishek Nayar (0) -- as KXIP were reduced to 53/4 after 9.2 overs.
The series of dismissals after a fine start meant that KXIP could score only 15 in five overs as it was left for Karthik and David Hussey to do the repair work.
In a much needed partnership, the duo added 31 from 34 balls to push the total before Hussey, a former Knight Rider, became Abdulla`s second victim, falling for 15. Knight Riders were not sharp on the field, as overthrows and misfielding were there, as KXIP were also equally lackluster in their batting.
The city received a spell of showers hours before the match, though that had little affect on the ground conditions.