Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders skipper Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa's pyrotechnics with the bat on Friday handed Delhi Daredevils a seven-wicket defeat and pushed them on the verge of elimination in season 10 of the Indian Premier League (IPL). This was Delhi's fourth loss on the trot.
Chasing a modest 161, KKR were nine for one in the second over, but Uthappa (59 from 33 balls) and Gambhir put together a 108-run partnership off just 66 balls to lay the foundation.
After Uthappa was run out, Gambhir held fort and led the team from the front with an unbeaten 71 from 52 balls (11x4) to complete the chase with 22 balls to spare. He also completed 6,000 runs in T20 cricket.
This was their fourth century partnership while chasing in IPL - the most by any pair, going past David Warner and Shikhar Dhawan's three. KKR haven't lost while chasing at the Eden Gardens since IPL 2012.
KKR (14 points) have one foot in the playoff with seven wins from nine matches, while DD's campaign is all but over following a four-match losing streak to languish at the bottom of the table with four points from seven matches.
If Delhi batsmen made a mess of their spectacular start, their fielders added to their woes as Gambhir and Uthappa went about their chase in a professional manner.
Uthappa made full use of a reprieve on nine and he overcame a niggle on his left leg to lead the charge, smashing a 24-ball half-century, his fourth from nine games this season.
Three Delhi fielders - Amit Mishra, Sanju Samson and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant - rushed to take an Uthappa skier in between short fine leg and square leg but in the end no one went for the catch.
Fresh from his match-winning 87 against Rising Pune Supergiant, Uthappa began from where he had left off in Pune.
He was at his furious best against Chris Morris and hammered him for six, four and six in an exceptional show of might. In the next over he hit Pat Cummins for a six and a four.
Making a comeback in place of Darren Bravo, Nathan Coulter-Nile (3/34) led a KKR fightback to restrict Delhi Daredevils to a below-par 160 for six after they were 41 without loss in four overs.
Coulter-Nile has now picked two or more wickets in each of the four games this season.
Kolkata Knight Riders found the going tough after a flying start, but their bowlers put up a tidy show to restrict the Daredevils.
Put in to bat, Delhi were 41 for no loss from four overs, but Sunil Narine's first-over breakthrough stymied their run-flow before Coulter-Nile produced some excellent bowling.
Delhi clearly lost their way at the death as they managed only 29 in the last five overs and lost four wickets.
Sanju Samson (60 from 38 balls; 4x4, 3x6) and Shreyas Iyer (47 from 34; 4x4, 1x6) gave them a solid start but their run-rate slipped as KKR fought back through Coulter-Nile.
Credit should also be given to Narine, who had 1/25, and was KKR's most economical bowler.
For Delhi, the onus was on their Indian youngsters to deliver and they showed the intent, sending Karun Nair to open with Samson.
The duo dealt in boundaries against the home team's pace attack before Narine drew first blood by trapping Nair (17).
The promising Nair, who hit three elegant boundaries off Coulter-Nile, looked clueless to a straighter one and missed the sweep to be trapped in front.
The boundaries dried up and it took 46 balls for Delhi to score their first boundary when Samson notched up his sixth IPL fifty with a six off Kuldeep Yadav.
The second-wicket partnership was worth 75 runs and came in 55 balls, after a 48-run opening stand from 29 deliveries, setting the stage for a 200-plus total.
Having completed his fifty, Samson tried to break free but could not keep up the momentum with KKR striking thrice - Pant (6), Iyer (47), besides Samson.
There was a cause for concern for KKR as Uthappa seemed to have hurt his left knee after nine overs and was treated with ice-packs in the dug-out, with Sheldon Jackson donning the wicketkeeping gloves.