KOLKATA, May 8 (IANS): Gujarat Lions came up with an all-round effort to outclass Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) comprehensively with five wickets and 12 balls to spare in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
With the win, Gujarat go atop the points table with seven wins from 11 outings. Dinesh Karthik top scored for the visitors with a 29-ball 51, while Aaron Finch contributed with a quickfire 29 to their total of 164/5.
Chasing Kolkata's 158/4, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCulllum helped Gujarat get off to a bit of a flyer. However, the latter seemed to have edged one-through to the keeper in the second over but there was no appeal from the hosts. The partnership lasted just 5.3 overs but by then the Lions had gathered 42 runs.
Smith (27) was clean bowled by Shakib Al Hasan and then McCullum (29) after smashing Morne Morkel for a 17-run over was out caught at long on. The double blow brought a huge smile on KKR co-owner and Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan who had come in without his son AbRam.
But the innings did not show any signs of running out of steam as Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik got together to knit another brisk partnership. By the end of 10 overs the Lions were comfortably placed at 89/2.
The stand went on for a few more overs which got the Lions closer to the target. But, with 43 runs required, Raina perished trying to hook an Andre Russell delivery.
Finch who came in next did not hang around much and started clobbering the bowlers. He smashed 31 runs off the 15th and 16th over.
Though Brad Hogg got rid of Karthik in the next and Finch got run-out, it was too little too late for the men-in-purple.
Earlier in the evening, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan's unconquered fifth wicket stand of 134 rescued KKR after a disastrous start and helped them post a challenging total.
Hasan remained unbeaten with a 49-ball 66, while Pathan carried his bat through with a knock of 63 from 41 deliveries. For the Lions, Praveen Kumar returned figures of 2-19 on a wicket that helped him swing the leather.
Put into bat, it was Uthappa for KKR who started on the right note slamming two back-to-back boundaries of Dhawal Kulkarni. But then in the very next over, veteran pacer Pravin Kumar got rid of Gautam Gambhir and then Manish Pandey.
Barely had KKR recovered from the double jolt, Uthappa, who was looking dangerous, headed back to the dugout. Next it was Suryakumar Yadav who perished as Suresh Raina held onto an incredible slip catch.
After six overs, the Knights were tottering at 28/4.
The hosts finally got hold of some momentum as Pathan hammered Chinaman bowler Shivil Kaushik for 14 runs in the 10th over.
Though it was not easy hitting the long ball in such humid conditions, Pathan managed to pierce the gap time and again. Hasan - dropped by Pravin Tambe in the seventh over - too played his role by giving his partner much of the strike.
The Bangladesh batsman brought up his side's hundred next in the 16th over with a monstrous six. And Pathan completed his fifty a little later.
Hasan, who had been playing second fiddle finally found his feet in the 18th over as he lofted Dwayne Bravo for two back-to-back sixes.
In the last two overs, KKR amassed 25 runs to finish on a strong note.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): 158/4 (Shakib Al Hasan 66, Yusuf Pathan 63; Praveen Kumar 2-19) vs Gujarat Lions: 164/5 (Dinesh Karthik 51, Aaron Finch 29)