Knight Riders v Royal Challengers, IPL 2014, Kolkata May 22, 2014

Uthappa powers Knight Riders into playoffs


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Kolkata Knight Riders 195 for 4 (Uthappa 83*, Shakib 60) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 165 for 5 (Takawale 45, Narine 4-20) by 30 runs

Robin Uthappa was little more than a spectator for eight overs as Royal Challengers Bangalore displayed the intent of a side fighting for survival. Three Kolkata Knight Riders batsmen were in the hut just after the Powerplay and Uthappa was 20 off 18. He finished an unbeaten 83 off 51 to confirm his team's place in the playoffs by extending their unbeaten run to six matches. Royal Challengers' loss meant they were out of the tournament.

They did have the resources to threaten a target of 196. But they persisted with a misfiring Chris Gayle and endured another poor start. Yogesh Takawale, inducted in the XI to offset Gayle's dot balls, looked scratchy early on and when he was becoming fluent, he perished. Sunil Narine's script was near flawless against Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh - who made a brief fist of it when he swatted Umesh Yadav in a 22-run 16th over - and AB de Villiers to scupper any chance the visitors had.

The pitch had offered early evidence of stopping on the batsmen a couple of times. Uthappa decided nudging around was too risky and enacted a counterattack. Concise footwork added power to his straight hits. His indulgence in unorthodoxy went as far as sweeping and reverse-sweeping, but more often than not he concentrated on guiding the ball into gaps with necessary angling of the bat. A caress to third man gave him the orange cap and his ninth 40-plus score in 13 matches ended up becoming his first unbeaten innings this season. Eden Gardens was rumbling "Uthappa, Uthappa" as he drilled the final ball of the innings - a full toss on middle - into the sightscreen to reach his highest IPL score.

Shakib Al Hasan was a brilliant deputy. Knight Riders were 56 for 3 in the eighth over when he joined Uthappa. The 121-run partnership took shape with singles and twos before Shakib, batting determinedly deep in his crease, brought out his bottom-handed swipes. The bowlers obliged by failing in their search for the blockhole and both batsmen began finding the boundaries with ease. When Yuzvendra Chahal was razed for 24 in the 15th over, with three towering sixes, Royal Challengers were rattled beyond recovery. They offered width, full tosses and bungled an easy run-out of Uthappa in the penultimate over to enable 78 runs off the last six overs.

Royal Challengers' hopes were pinned to an 85-run stand between Kohli and Takawale. They needed to balance the construction of a springboard for their finishers with an asking-rate that was persistently above 10. Rotating strike was not a problem and Vinay Kumar was carted for 17 runs in the ninth over to tempt their fans. However, with 26 runs and two wickets coming in the next four overs and 103 needed in the remaining seven, the dire need for big hits overcame the batsmen's ability.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • D on May 23, 2014, 13:29 GMT

    Delighted to see KKR make it in. Given the poor start they had to the tournament this is an excellent achievement, accomplished with a game in hand, no less! Narine, Uthappa, and Shakib all looking outstanding during the season while good supporting roles played by Gambhir, RTD, and Chawla. As far as batting order goes, I'm happy with where everyone currently is. While it is tempting to move Shakib and RTD further up the order, it is better to keep them there as is - both are explosive batsmen and at the same time they are good insurance policies in case a collapse happens earlier in the order.

  • sam on May 23, 2014, 7:47 GMT

    Very happy with Uthappa getting back into form. Always thought he had it in him to be a world class limited overs player. Funny what I can see but the national selectors can't. And the give chances to Yusuf Pathan --- in whom I never saw anything but a slogger whose slogging ability was less than Afridi and whose bowling and fielding were poor. Uthappa is not a test player though. And finally KKR realized what a slow batsman Kallis is for limited overs cricket. Anyday I will pick Shakib over Kallis in limited overs cricket unless the wicket is a green one or the ball will swing a lot. Finally Manish Pandey. Is he the most overhyped IPL player in the country? Why is he getting regular chances? First with RCB then with Pune and now with KKR. The guy has a bad defence and limited stroke-play. Just because he scored an IPL hundred doesn't make him a good bat. And finally with RCB. Please get some good domestic batsmen and bowlers. Only Chahal has been a success, rest are massive failures.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    Good lesson taught by all the Karnataka Players; Uthappa, Karun Nair, Vinay Kumar, Stuart Binny, Manesh Pandey, etc.... to Mallya and his team fcr not selecting the actual Bangaloreans for RCB. Me behind a diehard fan of RCB never supported RCB this time, though my brain supported RCB by heart was always wishing for the Bangaloreans in other teams to perform. Mallya and his team played with the sentiments of Bangaloreans and their players by not selecting anybody. The players here play for money and not for the honor of their state or city! In fact, some of the few Karnataka players outplayed RCB single-handled and drubbed RCB out of context; well played guys and well taught lesson to Mallya. Hope, he gives importance to local talent in the future at least.

  • Android on May 23, 2014, 7:05 GMT

    very very good robin will u back in Indian teem. nis bating. awsam

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2014, 6:36 GMT

    Well done KKR!!! The Daredevils played Neesham for three games, he got 8, 22, and DNB and we won two of those games, then he never got picked again nd never played once in India... pathetic... and we never won another game as a result... Comparatively you have KKR starting with a Ghambir 0,0, and another 0... triple ducks... and they persevered and now they are in the finals. You play your best and your talented guys and your hitters, you do not put undue pressure on players who are performing better when still warming up than those who replace them can go at at their best as not t20 players (Tahir and Parnell offer little).. KKR got it right... DD are last due to wrong line-up in 12 consecutive games of pure silliness. Not luck, not wrong in-game calls.. just the wrong team. KKR got it right and only played international bowlers as have Indian batsman in great form/top order and their bowlers are Narine and Morkel. DD had to / have to play KP, Duminy, Neesham and De Kock / Tahir!

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2014, 6:09 GMT

    Great going for KKR..Uthappa n shakib well done. If there is one player in the KKR dugout who is really unfortunate in this ipl has to be..kuldeep yadav!if anyone had seen him bowling would know what i mean...not even one game!every young indian bowler in other teams have got a chance and they have really made their mark, but for kuldeep its an endless wait. If vinay kumar gets hammered chawla comes in and when chawla goes out vinay pops back in. Mr Wasim Akram n KKR..iam simply amazed. Really unfortunate for kuldeep to be a part of kkr. Had he been in nay other team iam sure he would have been in the leading wicket takers list. i hope at least he gets one game to show his meetle.The only indian under 19 bowler to get a hattrick in world cup..not even one game..cant be more frustating n unfair. Hope mr akram opens his eyes n give this young lad a chance to atleast cheer about something in this ipl. lets see!

  • Mustafizur on May 23, 2014, 4:53 GMT

    @Puneet, no you are not taking anything away from Shakib. In fact you cannot. Why are you forgetting his 21 ball 46 just a couple of days ago. But again just two innings either is not an entitlement to be compared with Dhoni, true. I am however surprised to see some comments undermining Shakib because BD cannot win matches or he cannot single handedly win a match. On the other hand some commentators, only a couple of weeks ago, were screaming at Shakib supporters saying cricket is a team game, so Shakib alone is not enough for BD to win matches. BD haters please bear in mind, Shakib was not picked up by KKR as a BD representative. He was picked up because of his personal brilliance and please do not bring BD while praising or criticizing him. Why every time he plays a good knock some people bring up Bangladesh. He alone is not BD and BD is not only Shakib.

  • Dik on May 23, 2014, 4:42 GMT

    KKR finally realized where Shakib should be batting. I hope they keep him there. He's not a #7. He definitely would've score more 50's if he was batting in the high order.

  • Dummy4 on May 23, 2014, 4:38 GMT

    KKR obviously on fire now. After Gamvir, Utthapa came into driving seat, making KKR top orders simply unbeatable, huge credit goes to two spinners, how Narain and Shakib controlling the opponents' scores in a word 'superb', and on top of that Shakib's form fueling the middle order in absence of pathan, Doeschate's knock.

  • Ramesh on May 23, 2014, 4:15 GMT

    Last time it was Vinay Kumar and it was Uthappa's turn this time around. The Bangalore boys played a big role in sinking RCB. The lack of Indian talent hurt RCB big time. Mallya spent all his money on Yuvraj and wasted some more on the likes of Aaron and Dinda.