Kolkata Knight Riders 187 for 2 (Uthappa 85*, Pandey 76*) beat Dolphins151 for 8 (Phehlukwayo 37, Narine 3-33) by
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Leading in his 100th T20, against Dolphins in Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir wanted his side to do something different and test themselves before the semi-final. So for the second time in their streak of 13 victories, incidentally the longest for an Indian T20 side, Knight Riders batted first. It veered from their set game plan of allowing their spinners to tie up the opposition in knots before chasing a target but the end result was along expected lines, specially after Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey had razed the Dolphins attack with unbeaten fifties and a 153-run partnership, the highest stand in the Champions League.
Dolphins made a small dent early in Knight Riders' innings, getting rid of Gambhir and Jacques Kallis, and Kyle Abbott managed to slip in a couple of searching overs at the start, utilising some movement off the pitch. Then Uthappa and Pandey came together with the score at 34 for 2 in the fifth over and by the time the innings ended, their stand had come at a swift clip of 10 runs per over. Their batting was almost effortless, specially Uthappa's, whose polished drives were mixed in with well-timed steers behind the wicket.
Pandey, at the other end, used a swinging backlift to carve out fours and sixes. He also benefitted from two reprieves; he was dropped on 32 and 33 in the 13th and 14th overs and duly repaid Dolphins by smashing 42 off the next 19 balls he faced. He mauled Abbott, Dolphins' best bowler, scything and swinging his way to 21 runs in the 18th over. The ease with which the pair accumulated the runs meant that Knight Riders coasted at more than eight runs an over for most of their innings, before ending at 187 for 2.
In their previous games, Dolphins had shown glimpses of explosiveness in their batting but it didn't come together in this game. The early wickets added to the pressure of a tall chase but there were bright spots for Dolphins, particularly the entertaining, and at times brash, 63-run partnership between Khaya Zondo and Andile Phehlukwayo. The latter survived an edgy start before slamming some powerful shots, including a reverse sweep off Sunil Narine that came off due to his late adjustment. Narine contributed 3 for 33 to the win, which now places Knight Riders behind Surrey and Otago on the list of teams with most successive wins in T20s.
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo