Gambhir takes Knight Riders closer to IPL play-offs

May 20th, 2011 - 1:47 am ICT by IANS  

Gautam Gambhir Navi Mumbai, May 20 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders virtually booked their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) play-offs berth with an impressive seven-wicket win over new entrants Pune Warriors here Thursday.

Riding on skipper Gautam Gambhir’s unbeaten 54, the Knight Riders achieved the target of 119 runs with ease, losing just three wickets and with 20 balls to spare at the D.Y. Patil Sports Academy.

Knight Riders lost Shreevats Goswami (6) early in the first over, but Gambhir and Manoj Tiwari (24) took away the match with their 46-run stand. Gambhir was also involved in another crucial partnership - 64 runs for the third wicket - with Man of the Match Yusuf Pathan (29) that settled the issue. Gambhir hit seven fours in his 46-ball knock.

The win took the Knight Riders to the third spot in the points’ table and they have 16 from 13 matches. The win also helped Knight Riders open up a huge lead in the run rate that left Mumbai Indians and Kings XI in a race for the fourth play-off berth.

The game was tipped to be Sourav Ganguly’s revenge match against Knight Riders, which he captained in the last three seasons. But the hype was completely overshadowed by Gambhir, who not only shone with the bat, but also was spot-on with his decision making right after winning the toss when he put Pune Warriors to bat on a dry track.

Gambhir’s ploy of getting in an extra spinner also paid rich dividends as the spin trio of Shakib Al Hasan (2-16), Iqbal Abdulla (1-12) and Yusuf Pathan (2-23) exploited the generous turn to pick up five wickets for 51 runs in 11 overs that virtually tied down Pune Warriors and restricted them to 118 for seven in 20 overs.

The Pune Warriors, who had only pride to play for in this game, abjectly surrendered to Knight Riders’ slow bowlers. Their batsmen found stroke-play tough on the slow track and captain Yuvraj Singh was the top scorer with 24 runs. Ganguly and Sachin Rana scored 18s each while Manish Pandey and Callum Ferguson scored identical 16s.

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