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IPL 2014: Robin Uthappa powers Kolkata Knight Riders to a challenging 163/8

Kolkata, May 28 (IANS): Continuing his sizzling form, Robin Uthappa emerged top scorer with an aggressive 42, as Kolkata Knight Riders put up a decent batting show to post a challenging 163 for eight against Kings XI Punjab in a rain-interrupted Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 1 encounter at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.

The hosts rode on useful contributions by their mainline batsmen and overcame the hiccups of losing wickets at crucial moments to finish off on the right note by plundering 49 runs in the last four overs.

Opting to bowl on a wicket that was covered for long following a heavy downpour a day earlier, the Kings drew first blood in the second over when Knights skipper Gautam Gambhir (1) trying to pull Mitchell Johnson was caught in front of square.

But the dream run for Orange cap holder Uthappa continued as he batted like a man possessed, hitting boundaries at will with the capacity Eden crowd lustily cheering each blow.

Joining hands with Manish Pandey (21), Uthappa took KKR past 50 in the sixth over, completing the 50-run partnership in the process.

The hosts' march towards a solid score received a massive jolt in the ninth over when left arm spinner Akshar Patel struck twice, scalping both Uthappa and Pandey to leave KKR at 67/3.

Uthappa (42;30b 4x4 2x6) was caught in the deep while Pandey (21;20b 3x4), who earlier survived twin scares, eventually saw his luck running out when the ball after hitting his thigh pad crashed on to the stumps.

The double whammy brought in the duo Shakib Al Hasan (18) and last-match-hero Yusuf Pathan (20), who played cautiously to take the score past 100 in the 14th over.

Kolkata yet again suffered a double jolt as Shakib and Pathan departed on successive balls to leave the hosts reeling at 108/5 in the 15th over.

Leggie Karanveer Singh lured Shakib (18;16b 2x4 20) and Pathan (20;18b 2x4 1x6) to mis-hit and both ended up being caught.

The rain started after 15.4 overs, with the home side on 113/5, and the covers were rushed in as the players scampered back to the pavilion.

As the game resumed after a 25-minute stoppage, the Knights went for the slog with 14 runs coming off the 17th over, which saw Suryakumar Yadav lofting Rishi Dhawan over square leg for a six.

Ryan ten Doeschate then took charge, with back-to-back sixes off Karanveer. But the bowler ended the over on a happy note by getting rid of Yadav (20;14b, 3x4, 1x6). The sixth wicket partnership added a quickfire 37 runs off 21 balls.

Dutchman Doeschate (17; 10b, 2x6), however, got caught in the deep in the penultimate over that produced only three runs.

The Knights plundered 15 runs in the final over, with Chawla bringing the crowd on their feet with some lusty hitting.

For the visitors, Karanveer (3/40) was the most successful bowler, while Patel returned with enviable figures of (2/11).

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