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Uthappa, Gambhir help Kolkata grab top spot

Robin Uthappa launches one over the leg side BCCI

Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir made the most of favourable batting conditions as they added a 158-run stand for the second wicket that helped Kolkata outwit Pune by seven wickets - to reclaim the top spot in the Indian Twenty20 competition - at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Pune on Tuesday.

The top four Pune batsmen took Kolkata's bowlers apart, after Gambhir put them in to bat at the toss. The impressive batting display from the home side ensured that they set a sizeable 183-run target. With the asking rate hovering over nine at the onset, Kolkata needed quick runs upfront. Opener, Sunil Narine, provided early fireworks by thumping three fours in the first two overs, before falling in the third. His departure brought Robin Uthappa to the fore. Imran Tahir induced a swirling top edge from Uthappa in his first over, but Jaydev Unadkat dropped it, falling backwards at deep midwicket.

He made them pay for the error and smashed offspinner Washington Sundar for back-to-back sixes down the ground. In all, Uthappa clubbed seven fours and six sixes in his 47-ball 87, which is his highest score in the competition, before he departed. He scored at a strike rate of 185, and hammered 57 runs off 25 balls pitched on good length, 49 of which came against spin. Gambhir stood tall at the other end as well and thumped 62 off 46. The duo scored at 11.15 runs an over in the 14.1 overs that they batted together. The attacking display helped Kolkata comfortably end the chase with 11 balls to spare.