Kolkata: Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa slammed half centuries while Andre Russell plundered a 17-ball 48 as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) romped to a 28-run victory against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in a lopsided Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.
Asked to bat, Rana (63; 34b, 4×2; 6×7) and Uthappa 67 not-out (50b, 4×6, 6×2) set the platform for the two-time champions before Russell made the most of a reprieve to virtually take the game away from Punjab as Dinesh Karthik-led KKR posted 218/4, the highest total at this venue.
In reply, Punjab were never in the chase, with Chris Gayle (20) removed early by fellow Jamaican Andre Russell. Mayank Agarwal (58; 34b; 6×4; 1×6) cracked his first IPL fifty since 2015 while David Miller was not-out on 59 off 40 balls but none mattered in the end as they could only manage 190/4 in 20 overs.
Rana fashioned his second successive fifty as Uthappa blossomed in his company to stitch together a 110-run third wicket partnership.
The turning point of the match was when Mohammed Shami castled Russell batting on 3 off 5 balls, only to find the umpire calling it a no-ball as there were only three fielders inside the circle instead of the mandatory four. Since then, KKR made 56 runs in 19 balls.
Russell made the most of his second life by bludgeoning Andrew Tye for two sixes and two fours in the 18th over as the Australian leaked 22 runs.
Russell, who smacked a 18-ball 49 in the last match, then hit Shami for three back-to-back sixes and a four in the next over, taking KKR past the 200-mark, before getting out in the last over off Tye.
The 30-year old hit three fours and five sixes en route his blitzkrieg and joined hands with Uthappa for a 32-ball 67-run fourth wicket stand.
KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, fresh from the “Mankading” row against Rajasthan Royals’ batsman Jos Buttler in the last game that sparked worldwide discussions, gave away 47 runs in his four overs and was hit for five sixes — one every over — with Rana accounting for four of them.
Rana took time to settle down, scoring 22 runs off 21 balls before hoisting Ashwin over long-on for a maximum in the eighth over.
The southpaw, who scored 68 in KKR’s opening game to help them beat Sunrisers Hyderabad, smashed Ashwin for another six in the same region as the purple brigade raced to 89/2 at the halfway stage.
Rana and Uthappa also made merry in Mandeep Singh’s over, taking him for 18 runs before debutant Varun Chakravarthy got rid of the former.
KKR were off to a blistering start, thanks to Sunil Narine (24, 9b, 4×1, 6×3) — back to opening the batting after injuring his finger in the last game — who welcomed Chakravarthy by hitting him for 24 runs in the second over.
The leggie went for 25 runs, the costliest over so far this season. Chris Lynn (10) looked to continue the carnage by milking Shami for two fours in the next over before the India pacer got his back.
Narine was removed by South African debutant Hardus Viljoen in the fourth over. Cramped for room, Narine sliced wildly in the air only to be caught by wicketkeeper K.L. Rahul.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 218/4 (Robin Uthappa 67, Nitish Rana 63, Andre Russell 48); Kings XI Punjab 190/4 (David Miller 59 not out; Mayank Agarwal 58; Andre Russell 2/21)