A record third wicket partnership – between Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey – was the cornerstone of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ thumping 36-run victory over the Dolphins in Match 18 of the Oppo CLT20 2014. After opting to bat first at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad, the IPL champions rode on the unbeaten 153-run partnership between the two Karnataka lads to post 187, and then restricted their opponents to 151, thereby extending their streak of consecutive wins to 13 matches. (Also Read: QUICK STATS: M18 - KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS V DOLPHINS)
After skipper Gautam Gambhir and Jacques Kallis had their stumps rattled before five overs had been bowled, Robin – who has been one of the pillars of KKR’s successful run this season – and Manish took centre stage as they pounded the Dolphins bowlers mercilessly, in the process making their way into the record books, posting the highest partnership by a KKR pair. If the reinvented Robin mostly caressed the ball and picked gaps with the precision of a surgeon, his younger state-mate mixed timing and aggression to unsettle the opposition bowlers.
Robin’s preferred area was the cover region, while Manish’s scoring chart was a mirror image of his partner’s – with plenty of runs coming through the midwicket region. Both batsmen also used the cheeky late-cut or the last-second steer to thirdman to good effect. If Robin was severe on Craig Alexander scoring 17 runs off nine deliveries from the bowler, Manish got stuck into Kyle Abbott scoring 28 runs off eight deliveries from the bowler (including 21 off five deliveries in the 18th over).
Robin brought up his half-century off the 35th ball he faced and went on to finish unbeaten on 85 from 55 balls, while Manish got to his half-century off 39 balls, before finishing the innings unbeaten on 76 from 47 balls. Robin hit 13 boundaries, while Manish plundered five boundaries and as many sixes.
Robbie Frylinck, who dismissed Gambhir in his first over, was the most impressive of the Dolphins bowlers, finishing with figures of 1 for 29 from his four overs. Alexander was the only other wicket-taker in the KKR innings.
Already facing a humongous degree of pressure given they had to chase 188, further pressure mounted on the Dolphins when Yusuf Pathan dismissed Cameron Delport in the first over and Andre Russell accounted for Cody Chetty in the second over of the chase.
Vaughn van Jaarsveld and skipper Morne van Wyk resisted briefly, adding 47 runs. But the dismissal of both the well-set batsmen in the space of six deliveries derailed the chase once again. 18-year old Andile Phehlukwayo brought life back into the run-chase briefly with his 18-ball 37 (studded with six fours and a six) and his 63-run association with Khayelihle Zondo. But once Sunil Narine castled Phehlukwayo and had the dangerous Frylinck caught in the outfield, the chase was as good as over. The Dolphins finished their allotted twenty overs at 151 for 8.
Not surprisingly, Sunil Narine was once again the most successful bowler for KKR; the Trinidadian spinner picked up three wickets to move to the top of the Golden Wickets list. Yusuf Pathan picked up two wickets, while Russell, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla chipped in with a wicket each.
Kolkata Knight Riders win by 36 runs
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 187-2 in 20.0 Overs (Robin Uthappa 85*, Manish Pandey 76*) defeated Dolphins 151-8 in 20.0 Overs (Morne van Wyk 34, Khayelihle Zondo 32, Andile Phehlukwayo 37, Sunil Narine 3-33, Yusuf Pathan 2-25)
Man of the Match: Robin Uthappa, for his unbeaten 55-ball 85.
Gambhir: "I think it was important for us not to be complacent. It was a very professional performance. We thought we'd allow our batters to play with freedom, and Robin and Manish did that. I think it was getting tough with the dew for spinners, and it was important to put them under pressure, and they responded well. All the spinners had the answers for the questions we asked. I think it's great to have a bowler who can bend his back like Russell did today. The match against Hobart will be a great game."
van Wyk: "To be pretty honest, we had opportunities to apply our skills, and we got ourselves into opportunities, but couldn't get over the line. There's so many firsts for the guys in this tournament. We take a lot for granted playing back at home playing against the same guys. Looking in the mirror, we had opportunities to get the points on the board, and we'll use this as an incentive to get back here next year. We'll be taking a lot from this. The Dolphins character has shone through this tournament."