KOLKATA: Robin Uthappa struck a gritty 68 off 39 balls to help Kolkata Knight Riders recover from a jittery start and post 172 for six against defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in their IPL match here today.
Put in to bat, the two-time champions had the worst start of the season with scorecard reading 40 for two in the Powerplay after Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/20) and Rashid Khan (1/29) dismissed Sunil Narine and Gautam Gambhir respectively in six overs.
However, the Sunrisers failed to make further in-roads in the middle overs and the Karnataka duo of Uthappa and Manish Pandey put on a solid 77-run partnership from 52 balls.
Uthappa struck four sixes and five boundaries while Pandey cleverly rotated the strike to bring 100 in 12.4 overs.
After Uthappa's departed, Pandey (46 from 35 balls; 3x4, 2x6) looked to break free but Bhuvneshwar denied him a second successive fifty.
In an exceptional display during the death bowling, Bhuvneshwar also cleaned up Colin de Grandhomme for a duck with an inswining yorker.
Earlier, Orange Cap holder for being the current leading run-getter of season 10, Gambhir, was sent back by Afghan legspinner Khan in his first over for 15 runs.
Gambhir wicket fell after Sunil Narine, whose promotion as an opener, did not work this time around and Bhuvneshwar brilliantly set him up before castling him with a yorker.
The left-hander, who took the IPL by storm with his 18- ball 37 as an opener to set up an eight-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab two days ago at the same venue, looked out of sorts with Bhuvneshwar bowling him round the wicket.
Bhuvneshwar had an excellent first spell of 2-0-7-1 with KKR facing 14 dot balls inside four overs to be at 20 for one.
Hyderabad skipper David Warner brought in his trump card spinner Khan in the last over before Powerplay and the legspinner struck again in his first over with the big wicket of Gambhir.
Khan started off with seven runs from his first three balls with Uthappa hammering him for a six over long-on. Gambhir also looked to break free and slashed him by giving room but the ball went straight to unsettle his middle-stump.
However, all the good work by Bhuvneshwar and Khan was undone by the likes of Ashish Nehra (1/35), who bowled three wides, and Moises Henriques whose selection in place of Bangladeshi off-cutter specialist Mustafizur Rahman raised a few eyebrows.
Henriques was the most expensive Sunrisers bowler, conceding 26 from his 2 overs.