Kolkata: The skill of Gujarat Lions’ seam attack, led by Praveen Kumar, beat the depth of Kolkata Knight Riders as they jumped to the top of the table at Eden Gardens on Sunday. Praveen and Dhawal Kulkarni maximised the advantage of bowling under overcast skies by swinging the ball both ways to reduce Knight Riders to 24 for 4 by the end of the Powerplay. Half-centuries from Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan lift the hosts to 158 for 4. Dinesh Karthik’s busy half-century and a string of cameos then sealed Lions’ seventh win with five wickets in hand and 12 balls to spare.
Praveen laid down the marker in the first over with a big inswinger, which zipped through Gautam Gambhir’s gate and nearly shaved the off stump. Suresh Raina strengthened the slip cordon and even added a leg-slip, perhaps teasing Gambhir to glance the ball fine. The Knight Riders captain attempted the glance, only to deflect the ball off the thigh to the stumps in Praveen’s second over. A ball later, he had Manish Pandey nicking behind for a duck. By the time Dhawal Kulkarni dismissed Robin Uthappa in a similar fashion in his second over, Knight Riders had lost more then two wickets in the Powerplay for the first time this season.
Praveen’s third over was a maiden and Suryakumar Yadav fell to a stunning catch from Raina at slip. Lions could have also had Shakib on 3 had Pravin Tambe, returning from injury, not dropped a tough chance at third man. Instead, Shakib combined with Yusuf to spark a revival – they put together an unbroken 134, the highest for the fifth wicket in all IPLs.
Yusuf did the early running, drilling left-arm wrist spinner Shivil Kaushik for back-to-back boundaries in the 10th over.