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IPL 7: 'Knight' Uthappa powers Kolkata into playoffs; RCB knocked out

Kolkata Knight Riders continued to sizzle with Robin Uthappa and Sunil Narine playing leading roles as they booked the IPL playoff berth after shutting doors on Royal Challengers Bangalore with a 30-run victory on Thursday

Kolkata: The Robin Uthappa juggernaut rolled on as he hit a blistering unbeaten 83 off 51 balls to power Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to the play-offs with a 30-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Eden Gardens here Thursday.

Chasing an imposing target of 196, RCB could not recover from a disastrous start and kept losing wickets at crucial intervals to end up at 165/5 to dash their hopes of entering the knock-out stage of the IPL.

This was Kolkata's sixth win on the trot and Bangalore's eighth defeat of the season.

Umesh YadavUmesh Yadav makes an successful appeal against RCB batsman Chris Gayle during IPL their match in Kolkata on Thursday. 

For the Royals, Yogesh Takawale top scored with 45 while Knight's champion offie Sunil Narine finished with figures of 4/20.

Up against the mammoth score, Royal Challengers started off disastrously when the big hitting Chris Gayle 6 (9b 1x4) was trapped in front by Umesh Yadav in the second over sending his teammates and a capacity Eden crowd into a tizzy.

Yadav and Morne Morkel bowled tightly as RCB meandered to 17/1 at the end of four overs. But Yogesh Takawale who replaced regular keeper and opener Parthiv Patel for the match, hit Morkel for three crisp boundaries to give the chase some momentum.

The duo of skipper Virat Kohli and Takawale adopted a cautious approach mixed with aggression to take RCB to 50/1 at the end of the eighth over.

As the pair looked set to bail their side out of trouble, Knight Riders trump card Narine hit a double whammy in the 13th over removing both Kohli and Takawale.

Kohli 38 (31b 3x4 1x6) was out caught at third man while Takawale 45 (36b 5x4 1x6) was castled as the scoreboard read 93/3 and RCB needing another 103 runs from just seven overs.

Narine hit a twin blow again in the 17th over removing Yuvraj Singh 22 (12b 1x4 2x6) out caught and AB de Villiers 13 (13b 1x4) out bowled, to take the wind out of RCB's sails. For the home side, Umesh Yadav 1/45 was the other wicket taker.

Earlier, overcoming initial hiccups, Uthappa and Shakib al-Hassan powered Kolkata Knight Riders to an imposing 195/4.

Robin Uthappa and Shakib al-Hasan
Shakib al-Hasan congratulates KKR teammate Robin Uthappa for scoring a fifty during their IPL match against RCB at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Thursday. 

The Uthappa juggernaut rolled on as he partnered Shakib 60 (38b 5x4 3x6) to stitch a 121-run partnership to enable the mammoth score for the Knights who are just a win away from securing a berth for the play-offs. Uthappa 83 (51b 10x4 1x6) and Ryan ten Doeschate (6) remained unbeaten.

For the visitors, Mitchell Starc (1/32), Ashok Dinda (1/38) and Abu Nechim (1/33) were the wicket takers.

After having won their last five encounters chasing, the Knights's applecart was upset a bit when RCB captain Virat Kohli asked them to bat first. The start for the home team turned inauspicious after skipper Gautam Gambhir (4) had to depart in the very first over nicking Mitchell Starc to be caught behind.

Uthappa, who has been in terrific form, played cautiously to repair the damage but Manish Pandey 13 (12b 3x4) starting to look good, was snared by Starc off the bowling of Ashok Dinda to put the Knights' at 23/2 in the fourth over.

There was further disaster for the Knights, when Yusuf Pathan, who looked in ominous touch belting two sixes and a four to quickly race to 22, was run out attempting for a non-existent single. A desperate dive could not save the burly all-rounder from taking the long walk back to the dugout as his team looked in trouble with 56/3 after seven overs.

Unfazed by the dismissals, Uthappa continued his brilliant show with bat, hitting some crisp boundaries including a towering six down the ground off spinner Yujavendra Chahal.

With the wicket keeping low and affording turn, Kohli brought in his spinners to make further inroads. But Uthappa joining hands with Shakib scored at a brisk rate to take the score past 100 in the 12th over.

Even as Uthappa reached his fifth half century of the season, Shakib tore into leggie Chahal scoring 24 runs of his last over, including three massive hits into the crowd, as KKR galloped to 150/3 in the 16 over.

Kohli continued to juggle round his bowlers but in vain as Uthappa and Shakib, who have been revelations for the Knights notched up their century stand in just 61 balls. Continuing his good run, Shakib scored his first half century of the season in just 32 balls.

The 121-run partnership for the fourth wicket was broken when Shakib was bowled by Nechim for 60. The Knights scored an impressive 45 runs in the last four overs losing just a wicket.

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