Gambhir, Uthappa keep KKR juggernaut rolling
There was no stopping the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) juggernaut as Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa tore apart Delhi Daredevils' bowling to script a seven-wicket win and inch closer to a play-off berth in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the Eden Gardens here on Friday.
Gambhir remained unbeaten on 71 off 52 deliveries, his fourth IPL fifty, joining hands with Uthappa (59; 33b 5x4 4x6) for a match-winning 108-run stand for the second wicket to script the two-time champions' fourth successive victory. Delhi, on the other hand, were condemned to their fourth loss on the trot.
Kagiso Rabada (2/20), who was the pick of the Delhi bowlers, bowled a wide ball to help the rivals bag the win which helps them consolidate their position at the top of the table with 14 points from nine outings.
Gambhir is now the top-scorer in this edition followed by Uthappa. The pair have scored 403 runs together, the highest this season.
Rabada castled opener Sunil Narine for just four but the in-form pair of Gambhir and Uthappa started from where they had left off in the last game against Rising Pune Supergiant taking the Delhi bowlers to the cleaners.
Uthappa made the most of some comical fielding in the sixth over, when a leading edge off the in-form batsman's willow saw Sanju Samson and Amit Mishra converge in the region between short fine leg and square leg with none of them getting under the ball eventually. The Karnataka batsman was on nine at that time.
Uthappa was at his lethal best yet again, notching up the fifty in just 24 balls smashing five fours and three sixes. He was finally run out but the damage had already been done.
Gambhir at the other end, stood like a wall as Manish Pandey was done by a Rabada beauty, getting clean-bowled for just five.
Delhi captain Zaheer Khan picked up a hamstring injury after bowing the first ball of his second over which was completed by Corey Anderson.
Earlier, Coulter-Nile picked up three wickets to blunt Sanju Samson's half century and restrict Delhi to 160/6 in 20 overs.
Australian Coulter-Nile, coming back into the side after a one-match break, returned best figures of (3/34) in his four overs picking up the wickets of Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant at crucial junctures to halt Delhi's surge.
Samson (60; 38b 4x4 3x6) top-scored with his second fifty of the IPL season while Iyer (47; 34b 4x4 1x6) played a good hand too.
Ankit Bawne -- playing in place of Aditya Tare -- was not out on 12 while Pat Cummins did not face a ball when their innings ended.
Delhi openers Karun Nair (15; 17b, 3x4, 0x6) and Samson started well with the former playing the aggressor's role in the first few overs, welcoming Chris Woakes with two consecutive boundaries in his first two deliveries of the match.
The pair stitched together a 48-run stand before Narine removed Karun Nair, who missed a sweep with the ball striking his back leg for a plumb leg before wicket decision.
The hosts suffered a blow when in-form wicketkeeper batsman Uthappa picked up a knock and had to leave the field with Jackson -- playing in place of Piyush Chawla -- taking over the gloves in the 10th over. Iyer and Samson did not hit a boundary for 46 balls before the latter brought up his fifty with a six off Kuldeep Yadav over the square leg boundary. The duo engineered a 75-run partnership for the second wicket before Samson tried to play across the line and was plumb in front off the bowling of Umesh Yadav (1/38).
Iyer at the other end, took time to settle down before finally looking to accelerate by hitting Umesh for two back-to-back fours. Yusuf Pathan made a hash of the first one, failing to stop the innocuous ball.
Rishabh Pant (6) did not last long, adjudged LBW unluckily when the ball was going down leg off Coulter-Nile's delivery. In the same over, Iyer was sent back just three short of his half century by the Australian.
Delhi: 160/6 (Sanju Samson 60, Shreyas Iyer 47, Kagiso Rabada 2/20).
Kolkata: 161/3 (Gautam Gambhir 71, Robin Uthappa 59, Coulter-Nile 3/34).
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