Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders prevailed in their prestige fight against Pune Warriors, defeating the Sourav Ganguly-led side by seven runs in a thrilling Indian Premier League match here on Saturday.
Dubbed as the ‘Battle Royale’ of this edition of IPL, Gautam Gambhir and his boys held their nerves as Pune batting again faltered at the death to slump to their fifth consecutive defeat.
The loss means Pune has put paid to any hopes whatsoever of making it to the play offs, while KKR have consolidated their second position in the standings with 15 points from 11 outings.
Chasing 151 for win, KKR restricted Pune to 143 for eight with Ganguly emerging as the top-scorer with 36 off 35 balls during which he hit four boundaries and a lone six.
Angelo Mathews (35) gave Ganguly good support from the other end as the duo stitched 73 runs for the sixth wicket to keep Pune in the hunt.
Earlier, KKR frittered away a rollicking start as Pune Warriors hit back in the last 10 overs to restrict the hosts to 150 for five at a jam-packed Eden Gardens.
Opting to bat, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir (55 off 36 balls) played yet another captain’s knock with his third consecutive half-century and together with Brendon McCullum (42 off 43 balls) added 113 runs, their highest opening stand of the season.
The match lived up to its hype as fortunes kept on fluctuating till the last over when the asking rate got too high with 18 runs required off six deliveries.
KKR had the Warriors reeling at 55 for five at one stage before Ganguly and Mathews’ 73-run sixth wicket partnership which came off just 56 balls turned the match in the visitors favour.
Mathews hit Yusuf Pathan for three consecutive sixes to score 19 runs off the 15th over and put Pune in sight of a victory as the equation was reduced to 42 from 30 balls.
But Ganguly’s dismissal soon after he hit a six over long on off Rajat Bhatia in the 18th over swung the match in Pune’s favour.
With 12 needed from last three balls, Mathews perished in search of a big one, brilliantly caught by Manoj Tiwary at long on to virtually pocket the match for KKR. (PTI)