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Explosive Uthappa fires Kolkata to dominating win

Wisden India logo Wisden India 26-04-2017
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Kolkata Knight Riders came to the Maharashtra Cricket Stadium in Pune on Wednesday (April 26) night on the back of an overall track record of five wins in five games at the venue. In the 30th match of the 2017 Indian Premier League, they extended the record with a thumping win over Rising Pune Supergiant, whose three-match winnings streak came to a juddering halt with a seven-wicket loss.

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Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir made short work of what seemed like a steep chase after Pune had piled up 182 for 5 on a track that seemed to have decent bounce on offer.

But a blistering approach from Uthappa saw him rack up 87 off just 47 balls, and Gambhir anchored the innings with 62 runs off 46 balls after Sunil Narine was run out for 16 early on.

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A few misfields, including a costly dropped catch from Jaydev Unadkat off Uthappa, did help Kolkata’s cause, but it was the batsman’s amazing clean-hitting ability that took him to his third half century of the season. When he was dropped Uthappa was on 12 and had faced 13 balls. After that, he exploded.

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Uthappa hit six sixes and seven boundaries during his knock, and was finally dismissed in the 17th over with Kolkata needing just five runs for their sixth win of the tournament, which also saw them vault into the top spot on the table, ahead of Mumbai Indians on net run-rate.

Gambhir was caught by Shardul Thakur after top-edging a Dan Christian delivery five balls after Uthappa’s exit, but it was only a matter of time before Kolkata went over the line with a cover drive to the fence from Darren Bravo, on IPL debut.

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Earlier, sent in to bat, Pune got off to a solid start, courtesy Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi, the aggressor in the opening partnership of 65 off 47.

Tripathi hit seven glorious shots to the fence in his quickfire 38 off 23, before Piyush Chawla went past his defence in the eighth over.

Rahane was then joined by Steven Smith, and the duo kept the scoreboard ticking, with mostly ones and twos, taking Pune past the 100-run mark.

Rahane was in the middle for 14 overs, and though he racked up 46 off 41 deliveries, the runs didn’t come easy off his bat. He did hit some well-timed boundaries, but played out too many dot balls to end with a strike rate of 112.19, stumped by Uthappa off Narine’s bowling.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni then partnered Smith to help Pune make up for the lost time with a flashy 23 off 11, which contained two big sixes and a four. He could have added to that tally but he was outfoxed by a brilliant ploy from Kuldeep Yadav, who lured the veteran out of his crease with a flighted googly, and deceived him for Uthappa to complete another stumping.

Three balls later, Kuldeep went on to snare Manoj Tiwary with the same trick as Uthappa repeated the motion to reduce Pune to 150 for 4 in 17.5 overs. In the process, Kuldeep became the second bowler after Amit Mishra (v Rajasthan Royals in 2009) to have two stumpings in an over in the IPL.

A late surge from Smith and Dan Christian (16 off 6) helped Pune post a competitive total, but with Kolkata’s top-order in such supreme touch, there was every chance of an overhaul.

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