The Kolkata Knight Riders handed the Kings XI Punjab their first defeat as Gautam Gambhir smashed his 33rd half-century to claim an eight-wicket victory.
This was KKR’s seventh consecutive win in 20 matches against KXIP, with the hosts extending their overall victories against the visitors to 14 wins.
With 157 runs being the average at Eden Gardens for teams batting first in IPL 2016 and five out of six games won by the team batting second, KKR captain Gambhir elected to bowl first.
Hashim Amla got off to a good start scoring 10 runs off the first over and he was soon joined by his opening partner, Manan Vohra, as the pair put on a brilliant technical-batting display to race to a 53-run partnership before KXIP lost their first wicket in the sixth over.
Vohra was the first to go, bowled by legbreaker Piyush Chawla (1-36) on 28 off 19 balls (four fours and a six). This saw Marcus Stoinis come in at No 3 instead of his captain Glenn Maxwell, but Stoinis (9) couldn’t hang around long, as he was undone by the spin of Sunil Narine.
With their side on 67-2 after eight overs, Amla and Maxwell could not repeat their star partnership which saw them claim a victory against the Royal Challengers Bangalore last time out.
New Zealand all-rounder, Colin de Grandhomme (1-14), who came in for the injured Chris Lynn, dismissed Amla (25 off 27) for his first wicket on his IPL debut. Maxwell lost his wicket in the 13th over, as KXIP were reduced to 98-4.
Three wickets off four balls from Umesh Yadav (4-33) in the 18th over, saw David Miller (28 off 19 balls), Wriddhiman Saha (25 off 17) and Axar Patel (0) fall, as KXIP were reduced to 156-7 (18 overs).
Chris Woakes (2-30) helped restrict the opposition further by collecting two scalps in the final over, as KXIP posted 170-9.
The KKR replied by scoring their highest powerplay total of 76-1, thanks to the first-wicket stand between and Gambhir and Narine, before the latter fell after scoring his highest T20 score of 37 off 18 balls (four fours and three sixes).
The hosts continued to make light work of their target. Robin Uthappa joined his captain to smash 26 off 16 (three fours and one six) to take KKR to 116, before losing his wicket.
Gambhir (72 off 49 balls) played a skipper’s innings by first reaching a 34-ball fifty and then putting on a winning partnership of 55 with Manish Pandey (25 off 16 balls), as KKR posted 171-2 and cruised to an eight-wicket victory with 21 balls to spare.
This was Gambhir’s 33rd IPL century, equalling David Warner’s record for the most 50s. This was also his 28th half-century as captain, with no other captain reaching 20.
Photo: Ron Gaunt/Sportzpics/IPL/Cricinfo