Kolkata, May 14 - Skipper Gautam Gambhir blasted his eighth half-century of the tournament, but the Kolkata Knight Riders failed to follow up on an explosive start and finished at 158 for six in 20 overs against defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here Monday.
Gambhir (62; 43 b, 4x6, 3x6) and Brendon McCullum (37; 29 B, 4X4, 1X6) launched the Knight's innings on a high rampaging, 69-ball 99 at the Eden Gardens, but loss of quick wickets led to a drop in the run rate as the Super Kings were set an asking rate of 7.95 runs per over.
Gambhir, whose blade failed to fire in the game against Mumbai Indians two days back, found himself among runs. The most successful with the bat for his team so far in the tournament, Gambhir started off with a boundary in the square leg region off the very second ball, and continued the momentum thereafter clobbering the bowlers to all ends of the ground.
With McCullum, apart from punishing the loose balls, cleverly rotating the strike and letting his captain do the bulk of the scoring, the Knight Riders galloped to 50 without loss at the end of the powerplay.
With Gambhir in full force, 15 runs were milked off the eighth over bowled by left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja and the score mounted to 86 at the half-way stage of the innings.
The Chennai bowlers, sent on a leather hunt, finally broke the partnership in the 12th over when McCullum got run out looking for a second run. The New Zealander's departure triggered a collapse.
In the very next over, Gambhir charged Shadab Jakati, but managed only an inside edge to the pad before the ball kissed the stumps as the Knight Riders were reduced to 100/2.
Kallis (4) never got going, Yusuf Pathan's (11; 8b, 1x6) only significant contribution was a six over long on, while Manoj Tiwary (12) also disappointed, as the scoring rate slowed down.
In the end, it was left to Debabrata Das (19 not out; 10b, 2x4, 1x6) to play a cameo that helped the Knight Riders to cross the 150-mark.