Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders produced a clinical performance to thrash a spineless Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets in an Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens.
With a vintage Laxmipathy Balaji (3/15) at display, the Knight Riders bowled out for Rajasthan for a paltry 81 runs, the lowest total of the ongoing IPL.
Kolkata were also helped by a listless performance by Rajasthan batsmen, who played some irresponsible shots at a placid Eden pitch to be bundled out in 15.2 overs.
Balaji was brilliantly backed up backed up by Bangladesh captain Shakib-al-Hasan (2/21) and some sharp work at the field, which accounted for two run outs
For Knight Riders this was their third consecutive win -- back-to-back against Rajasthan -- after losing the first match to Chennai Super Kings to climb up to the top of the points table.
Chasing a modest 81, skipper Gautam Gambhir (35 not out, 35 balls, 3x4s) played a sensible innings while Manoj Tiwary (30 not out from 26 balls, 4x4s, 1x6) displayed aggression from the onset to help Knight Riders register the thumping win.
Earlier sent into bat, Rajasthan came up with a pathetic batting display to be bundled out for 81 inside the 16th over.
After a shaky start, Ashok Menaria showed some promise with a quickfire 21 from 17 balls but there was no end to Rajsathan`s misery as they lost their last five wickets for just three runs within a space of 13 balls.
Defending the small total, there were some moments of joy for Rajasthan who gave it all out on the field.
Shaun Tait (1/29) started with a bang, foxing the in-form Kallis for a duck with a bouncer in the second ball of Knight Riders` innings.
In search of another breakthrough , Rajasthan captain Shane Warne then the packed slip cordon but the other opener Manvinder Bisla and Gambhir were watchful and waited kept the scoreboard ticking with ones and twos without taking any undue risks.
However, Bisla was done in by a brilliant catch by a flying Abhishek Raut off Warne at the midwicket to reduce Knight Riders to 31 for two after seven overs.
But Gambhir remained calm and maintained his poise, in front of the challenge put up by Warne and company.
As the target neared, Tiwary clobbered Tait for one six and two fours to finish the proceedings in a hurry.
Gambhir scored the winning runs with a four of Tait.
Earlier, Rajasthan made their intentions clear promoting in-form Shane Watson (11 off 13) up the order to open the batting with Amit Paunikar, who scored a run-a-ball 15 after sent into bat.
But Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir justified his decision to bowl first as Balaji and Abdulla made early in-roads, dismissing both the openers within five overs.
Just when Watson and Paunikar were beginning to look dangerous with some clean strikes off Shakib, Gambhir`s move of bringing in Balaji and Abdulla paid rich dividends.
Balaji castled through Watson`s defence with a gem of an outswinger and in the next over, left arm spinner Abdulla disturbed Paunikar`s timber to reduce Rajasthan to 28 for two.
Knight Riders` fielding was equally sharp today as they managed two quick run-outs -- Faiz Fazal (3) and Abhishek Raut (11) -- in a space of six balls to see Rajasthan totter at 43 for four after eight overs.
In Knight Riders` second home match even though it was not a packed Eden, yet a turnout of about 50,000 ensured a vibrant atmosphere with principal owner and Bollywood heartthrob Shah Rukh Khan cheering from the corporate box.
There was a brief comeback of sorts for Rajasthan with Menaria taking charge of the Knight Riders attack.
Just when a partnership between Menaria and Ross Taylor was developing, the latter was scalped by Yusuf Pathan to bring an end to their recovery process that yielded 24 runs.
Balaji returned to haunt in the 14th over as the seamer claimed two wickets, including that of Menaria (21 off 17 balls) in the same over to reduce Rajasthan to 79 for seven.
Balaji castled Ajinkya Rahane (6) in the first ball of 14th over and then Maneria became his third victim in the last delivery of the same over when the southpaw was trying to lift the pacer over the third man.
Then Shakib claimed two wickets in consecutive deliveries, while Lee gave the icing on the cake claiming the last wicket in the 16th over to wrap up the Rajasthan innings inside the 100-run mark.
From 78 for six in 13.1 overs, Rajasthan were eventually skittled out for 81 in 15.2 overs.