Russell, Rana shine as Knights bludgeon Kings

Kolkata Knight Riders' Nitish Rana, Andre Russell and Robin Uthappa send the Kings XI Punjab bowlers on a leather hunt to set up a 28-run win in an IPL match at Eden Gardens.

Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate their win over Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens.   -  AFP

Ruthless bludgeoning of the cricket ball by three musketeers — Nitish Rana, Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell — powered Kolkata Knight Riders to a 28-run win over Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.

The three-and-a-half hours' fireworks spurred KKR to amass 218/4, the highest total at the venue, and provided thorough entertainment to its 51,000 passionate supporters.

In reply, KXIP managed 190/4 as KKR scored its second consecutive win at home before getting on the road.

As it happened

Sunil Narine returned to his favourite opening slot and shattered the 'mystery' around KXIP's costly buy — Varun Chakravarthy — who conceded 25 runs (including three sixes and a four) in his first over on debut.

That assault by Narine fetched KKR the early momentum, but after the fall of Chris Lynn, who ill-timed Shami high into the space, and Narine in similar fashion, Uthappa (67 not out off 50) and Rana (63 off 34) took charge.

It was one of the finest IPL knocks by the responsible Uthappa, who blended aggression with caution. Rana, encouraged by his previous innings, stretched his legs and swung his arms to thrash the KXIP bowlers and help KKR maintain an eight-plus run rate.

Kolkata Knight Riders' co-owner and Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan reacts after KKR's win.   -  PTI


Rana grabbed 50 runs through fours and sixes alone. No matter how he held the bat, the Delhi batsman hit all his seven sixes, including four off R. Ashwin, in the 'V' and left the KXIP skipper clueless.

Uthappa enjoyed his timing and placement as he cut and flicked to gather most of his runs. He gave perfect company to Rana by producing a fine mix of ones and twos interspersed with fours and sixes.

Rana top-edging Varun may have ended a 110-run solid partnership off 66 balls between him and Uthappa but it did not choke KKR's run flow.

Russell, who was bowled off a Shami yorker on three in the 17 over but was reprieved as the umpired ruled it a no ball due to violation of field restrictions, punished KXIP heavily for the innocuous mistake.

In his second successive spectacular show, the Caribbean flexed his bulging biceps to plunder 45 off the next 12 balls, including 22 off Andrew Tye in the 18th over and 25 off Shami in the 19th.

His 17-ball 48, featuring a whopping strike rate of 282, matched the decimation against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Russell was fittingly awarded the man-of-the-match, his second in succession.

Russell and Uthappa collected 67 off 32 deliveries to enable KKR better the previous best total of 210/6 scored by Mumbai Indians at the Eden.

Russell shone with the ball as well as he captured the crucial wickets of Chris Gayle and Sarfaraz Khan, the heroes of KXIP's last match, and dented the tourists' progress.

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