Man of the Match Sourav Ganguly led from the front with a thundering 54-ball 88 to take Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) past Deccan Chargers (DC) by 24 runs for its fourth victory in DLF IPL-III here at the Eden Gardens on Thursday night.
Opting to bat, KKR put up a solid 181 for six in 20 overs and restricted DC to 157 for five for a deserving victory. Interestingly this was KKR's fourth straight win over DC in India, all under Ganguly.
A masterly half century by Herschelle Gibbs and a 45 by Andrew Symonds went waste as the KKR bowlers, especially left-arm spinner Murali Kartik, fast medium Shane Bond and medium pacer Angelo Mathews bowled superbly to figure prominently in the win.
Gibbs and captain Adams Gilchrist began fluently, especially the former who took debutant off-spinner Mohnish Parmar to the cleaners rattling up 14 runs in the first over. It was an ominous start for the Hyderabad side.
The first wicket put on 31 in 2.4 overs but Gilchrist did not last long lofting Ajit Agarkar to deep mid-wicket where Cheteshwar Pujara safely pouched the catch.
Gibbs and Monish Mishra added 46 for the second wicket and kept ahead of the asking rate. When Manoj Tiwary accepted the catch of Mishra at long-on off Mathews, the most dreaded pair of DC, Gibbs and Andrew Symonds, joined forces to revive its chances.
In 5.5 overs the two added 44 runs and looked to be taking the game away when Bond struck claiming Gibbs for 50, well taken by David Hussey. From a healthy 121 for three, DC slumped to 157 for five in 5.4 overs.
Symonds, who was batting with assurance till then, lost Rohit Sharma in the 16th over bowled by Kartik. With 40 needed from 12 balls, Bond gave away only six in the 19th over. DC needed 34 runs from the last over.
Under fire for lack of runs in seven matches, a determined Ganguly came out with a positive mind and made his intentions clear from the first ball. The graceful left-hander got into his groove quickly and played one of his best knocks in the shortest form of the game.
Despite losing partner Gayle cheaply, Ganguly, with Pujara for company, came up with some fluent shots on either side of the wicket. Pujara too matched his captain with three sweetly-timed fours but failed to last beyond the sixth over.
Ganguly lost Manoj Tiwary early, the latter dragging an intended sweep off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha onto his stumps, but found in David Hussey a willing partner.
Knight Riders enjoyed the best phase of the innings when the left-right combination produced 78 runs for the fourth wicket in 8.3 overs. Ganguly was the dominant partner playing some lovely lofted shots with timing and placement.
Having crossed his second half century of the tournament, Ganguly tore into Ojha whose fourth over cost him 20 runs. Ganguly sent him out of the ground thrice.
An over-ambitious Ganguly tried to hit the last ball of the over for a six but perished well taken by Rohit Sharma for a magnificent 58-ball 88 with nine fours and five sixes.
From 146 for four in the 17th over, KKR ended the innings at 181 for six, thus reaching its second highest total of the season, the best being 183 against King's XI Punjab.
The scores: Kolkata Knight Riders: S. Ganguly c Rohit b Pragyan 88 (54b, 9x4, 5x6), C. Gayle c Roach b Symonds 4 (7b, 1x4), C. Pujara c Pragyan b Symonds 17 (13b, 3x4), M. Tiwary b Pragyan 5 (7b), D. Hussey c Gibbs b Jaskaran 31 (27b, 1x4, 2x6), A. Mathews c Gibbs b Jaskarandeep 4 (4b), W. Saha (not out) 10 (4b, 2x4), A. Agarkar 8 (5b, 1x4); Extras (lb-4, nb-1, w-9): 14. Total (for six in 20 overs): 181.
Fall of wickets: 1-15, 2-46, 3-68, 4-146, 5-159, 6-163.
Deccan Chargers bowling: Roach 4-0-48-0, Jaskaran 3-0-18-2, Symonds 4-0-26-2, Harmeet 2-0-21-0, Rohit 2-0-16-0, Pragyan 4-0-38-2, Rao 1-0-10-0.
Deccan Chargers: H. Gibbs c Hussey b Bond 50 (45b, 5x4, 1x6), A. Gilchrist c Pujara b Agarkar 9 (5b, 2x4), M. Mishra c Tiwary b Mathews 29 (16b, 6x4), A. Symonds c Kartik b Gayle 45 (37b, 5x4), Rohit b Kartik 2 (6b), T. Suman (not out) 15 (11b, 1x6), V. Rao (not out) 0; Extras (lb-2, w-5): 7. Total (for five in 20 overs): 157.
Fall of wickets: 1-31, 2-77, 3-121, 4-125, 5-151.
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Parmar 3-0-33-0, Bond 4-0-28-1, Agarkar 4-0-31-1, Kartik 4-0-29-1, Mathews 4-0-25-1, Gayle 1-0-9-1.