Kolkata, April 15 (IANS) Robin Uthappa rescued Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) from their initial hiccups with a composed 68 that helped his side post 172/6 in 20 overs against Sunrisers Hyderabad in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
Put in to bat by visiting skipper David Warner, KKR lost opener Sunil Narine (6; 9b, 1×4) and skipper Gautam Gambhir (15; 16b, 2×4, 0x6) early to be tottering at 40/2.
Coming in at No.3, Uthappa used all his experience to engineer a crafty 68 (39b 5×4 4×6) along with Manish Pandey who was guilty of a slow start — scoring only 13 in his first 18 balls — to finally score a 35-ball 46 (3×4, 2×6). The pair stitched together a 77-run third wicket partnership.
For the visitors, Bhuvneshwar Kumar returned best figures of (3/20) conceding at an economy rate of just five.
Narine failed to repeat his heroics of two days ago as a fiery Bhuvneshwar uprooted his off-stump with an in-swinging yorker to which the leg-spinner had no answer.
In the previous over, Narine had slapped Ashish Nehra down the wicket.
Bhuvneshwar looked dangerous in his first spell of two overs (2-0-7-1) getting the ball to swing away from the right hander.
Uthappa almost fell pray in his first delivery, following a away moving delivery and all but edging behind to wicket-keeper Naman Ojha.
Just when it looked like Gambhir was about to continue from where he had left against Kings XI Punjab, Afghanistan leg-spinner Rashid Khan (1/29) continued his purple patch with the KKR captain trying to cut a straight one that skidded off the surface and clattered into his stumps.
After the Powerplay, KKR were in a spot of bother at 40/2 with Pandey joining Uthappa in the middle.
Uthappa upped the ante after the break, hitting Moises Henriques and Vipul Sharma — both being inducted in the first XI in place of Mustafizur Rahman and Vijay Shankar — for two and a six respectively.
The clean-hitting right-hander from Karnataka brought up his half-century, sweeping Rashid to deep midwicket where Shikhar Dhawan misjudged a difficult catch attempt. Together with Pandey, the duo who play their domestic cricket together, tore apart Sunrisers.
Uthappa, in the process, became the third batsman after Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan to score 1500 runs for KKR.
Cutting (1/41) finally got Uthappa out — his legcutter forcing the 2007 T20 World Cup winning player to mistime his pull with Rashid running from deep midwicket to long on to take the catch.
Bhuvneshwar halted Pandey from scoring a fifty, getting the back of him as Pathan remained unbeaten at 21 off 15 with Suryakumar Yadav and Colin Grandhomme falling to Nehra and Bhuvneshwar respectively.
Brief scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad 172/6 (Robin Uthappa 68, Manish Pandey 46; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 3/20) vs Kolkata Knight Riders.