Kolkat Knight Riders 119-3 (Gambhir 54no) beat
Pune Warriors 118-7 (Balaji 2-7) by 7 wickets
Indian Premier League 2011, Mumbai
The Kolkata Knight Riders kept up their concerted push for a play-off place in the Indian Premier League with an utterly dominant seven-wicket win over the Pune Warriors.
Whereas other teams, notably the Deccan Chargers, have found their best form once they have been ruled out of contention and the pressure has been lifted, the same cannot be said for Pune, for whom this was another lacklustre performance.
It was highlighted by the fact that they managed just one six - from the bat of Sourav Ganguly, who made 18 against his former team - in a modest score of 118 for seven.
That proved little obstacle to the Knight Riders as an unbeaten half-century from Gautam Gambhir guided them home with more than three overs in hand.
Alfonso Thomas struck quickly to have Shreevats Goswami (6) caught behind but that was as good as it got for Pune and their dismal form and luck was summed up again when two direct hits from Callum Ferguson deflected to the boundary.
They could not afford to give away runs and the confident Kolkata batsmen had time to play themselves in, Gambhir leading from the front with 54 not out in 46 balls with seven fours.
Manoj Tiwary fell for 24 when he played on to Bhuvneshwar Kumar amid a bizarre, ugly war of words with Jesse Ryder. Ryder the fielder was making more of an impact on the game than Ryder the batsman, who had played an ugly shot to be first out for Pune for one.
The Knight Riders' spinners were outstanding, Yusuf Pathan leading the way with two for 23 as he took the new ball while Iqbal Abdulla returned one for 12 and Shakib Al Hasan two for 16.
It was Shakib who removed Ganguly, caught by Pathan as he failed to get hold of a sweep as the former Indian captain was unable to produce a performance to inspire his new side against his old charges.
Top scorer for the Warriors was their captain Yuvraj Singh, who made 24 in 26 balls; symptomatic of a string of batsmen unable to escape the clutches of Kolkata's bowlers, for whom Lakshmipathy Balaji chipped in with two for seven from one over.
Their only concern was an injury to Jacques Kallis, who was hit on the hand as he tried to field off his own bowling. However, that promoted Gambhir to open the batting and he was competely comfortable and led his side to a victory that now piles the pressure on the Kings XI Punjab as five teams battle for four places.
© Cricket World 2011