first_imgKolkata: Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa slammed half-centuries while Andre Russell continued his pyrotechnics with the bat as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) posted a mammoth 218/4 against Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League (IPL) clash at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday. Rana (63; 34b, 4×2; 6×7) fashioned his second successive fifty as Uthappa blossomed in his company with a well-timed unbeaten 67 (50b, 4×6, 6×2) before Russell virtually took the game away from Punjab with a 17-ball 48 (4×3, 6×5). The visitors could have checked KKR’s run flow when Mohammed Shami castled Russell when he was on 3, only to find the umpire calling it a no-ball as there were only three fielders inside the circle. Russell made the most of his second life by bludgeoning Andrew Tye for two sixes and two fours in the 18th over as the Australian leaked 22 runs. Russell, who smacked a 18-ball 49 in the last match, then hit Shami for three back-to-back sixes and a four in the next over, taking KKR past the 200-mark, before getting out in the last over off Tye. Russell and Uthappa joined hands for a 32-ball 67-run fourth wicket stand as KKR amassed 71 runs in the last five overs. KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, fresh from the “Mankading” row against Rajasthan Royals’ batsman Jos Buttler in the last game that sparked worldwide discussions, went for 47 runs in his four overs and was hit for five sixes — one every over — with Rana accounting for four of them. On Monday, the Kings XI Punjab captain was at the centre of the controversy as he ‘Mankaded’ Rajasthan Royals’ in-form batsman Jos Buttler, a perfectly legal dismissal but an act which triggered a debate concerning ‘Spirit of Cricket’. On Wednesday, Ashwin was at the receiving end of a harsh yet perfectly legal call by on-field umpire Anil Chaudhary. KKR’s last match hero Russell had walked in at the fall of Nitish Rana’s wicket and got a perfect yorker from Mohammed Shami off the last delivery of the 17th over. Russell was on his way back to the dug-out. However, to the horror of KXIP players, umpire Anil signalled no-ball and a free-hit. Ashwin was at his wits end thinking that Shami had overstepped only to find out that KXIP had one fielder short of the mandatory four inside the 30-yard circle. It was David Miller, who was not inside the circle. Meanwhile, Uthappa and Rana stitched together 110 runs for the third wicket after the home team lost their openers inside four overs. Rana took time to settle down, scoring just two runs off the first seven balls before hoisting Ashwin over long on for a maximum in the eighth over. The southpaw, who scored 68 in KKR’s opening game to help them beat Sunrisers Hyderabad, smashed Ashwin for another six in the same region as the purple brigade raced to 89/2 at the halfway stage. Rana and Uthappa also made merry in Mandeep Singh’s over, taking him for 18 runs before debutant Varun Chakravarthy got rid of the former. KKR were off to a blistering start thanks to Sunil Narine (24, 9b, 4×1, 6×3) — back to opening the batting after injuring his finger in the last game. Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 218/4 (Robin Uthappa 67, Nitish Rana 63, Andre Russell 48) vs Kings XI Punjab.last_img

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