Uthappa, Shakib flatten Super Kings
Kolkata Knight Riders 156 for 2 (Uthappa 67, Shakib 46*) beat Chennai Super Kings 154 for 4 (Raina 65, Narine 1-24) by eight wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Robin Uthappa made his fourth half-century of the season to lead Kolkata Knight Riders to an eight-wicket win over Chennai Super Kings with two overs to spare. The win took Knight Riders level on Rajasthan Royals with 14 points from 12 games, helping them break further away from the crowded middle of the table. Uthappa, who was put down twice, and Gautam Gambhir put on 64 for the opening partnership in seven overs, and Knight Riders were in control of the chase of 155 after such a beginning. Shakib Al Hasan belted an unbeaten 46 off 21 to hasten the end.
Uthappa made 67 off 39 and middled the ball consistently on a pitch where most batsmen had to rely on muscling it. Both sides had wanted to chase on the untested surface in Eden Gardens' first match of the tournament, and Super Kings were to find out that despite the green tinge, the ball wasn't quite coming on. There was some help for the spinners as well.
Super Kings went below run a ball for almost two-thirds of their innings. In contrast, Uthappa began with a flurry of boundaries. He eased the first ball of the innings from Ben Hilfenhaus between extra cover and mid-off for four and also clipped the fifth through square leg for four more. The two shots were to bring him plenty of runs through his innings. He also deftly guided deliveries past slip, and resorted to the slog-sweep as his innings progressed.
In his eagerness to drive, Uthappa offered two chances to slip early on, and Super Kings reprieved him each time. First, R Ashwin dropped him on 6 off Hilfenhaus in the first over. MS Dhoni immediately replaced Ashwin with Suresh Raina in that position. In the third over, Raina let a harder, diving chance off Mohit Sharma go down, with Uthappa on 24. By the time Uthappa timed a lofted drive off Ravindra Jadeja to wide long-off in the 12th over, Knight Riders had almost reached 100. In his previous seven innings now, Uthappa's lowest score has been 40.
Knight Riders needed 57 off 50 when Uthappa fell. Manish Pandey struggled to get going but Shakib more than made up with some powerful hitting. Slogging, paddling and lofting his way to eight boundaries in 21 balls, Shakib shut the door firmly on Super Kings.
Shakib had opened the bowling and had contributed in tying down the Super Kings top order. At the other end, Pat Cummins, on IPL debut, bowled Dwayne Smith with his second ball. The pace of Umesh Yadav and the spin of Sunil Narine was as hard to get away.
Raina took nine deliveries to get off the mark in a slow 55-run partnership with Brendon McCullum but accelerated later to make 65 off 52. Shakib could have had Raina on 16, but Yusuf Pathan dropped a difficult chance diving at the straight boundary in the eighth over. Raina opened up against Piyush Chawla, hitting him for three sixes but his attempt to clear long-on in the 18th over failed. Raina's effort enabled Super Kings to go past 150, but it was quite insufficient against Uthappa and Shakib.
Abhishek Purohit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo