Riding on skipper Gautam Gambhir and surprise opener Sunil Narine's heroics performance, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) defeated Kings XI Punjab by 8 wickets in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday.
Chasing 171 for victory after asking Kings XI to bat first, Gambhir (72, 49b; 11x4) notched up his 33rd IPL fifty to guide his team through for their second win in three matches.
Gambhir, in the process, equalled the record of most half-centuries in IPL history along with Sunrisers Hyderabad's David Warner. Manish Pandey (25, 16b; 2x4, 1x6) hit a six off Marcus Stoinis for the winning runs.
Narine (37; 18b 4x4 3x6), who opened the batting much to everyone's surprise along with Gambhir, vindicated his team's decision by helping the hosts get off to a great start.
The mystery spinner, who has opened the batting three times for Melbourne Renegades in the last Big Bash League, showed no signs of rustiness hitting Varun Aaron two consecutive sixes and a boundary.
The pair engineered a 76-run opening partnership -- KKR's highest in Powerplay -- before Aaron got his man as Narine attempted a pull but holed out to Axar Patel at deep midwicket.
Narine walked back to the pavillion to a standing ovation from the packed crowd.
Uthappa (26; 16b 3x4 1x6) could not convert his start, falling to Patel as he missed a harmless straight delivery.
KKR though were in control of their chase throughout as Gambhir looked in sublime form.
Earlier, fit-again Umesh Yadav started his Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign on a high by taking four crucial wickets to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 170/9.
Yadav returned figures of 4/33 with a stellar 18th over where he took three wickets in the space of four balls to send set David Miller (28; 19b 2x4 2x6), Wriddhiman Saha (25; 17b 2x4 2x6) and Axar Patel (0) back in the hut.
Earlier, he took the wicket of visiting captain Glenn Maxwell 25 (14b 3x4 1x6) also.
There were two 50-run partnerships for the visitors -- between Manan Vohra (28; 19b 4x4 1x6) and Hashim Amla (25; 27b, 4x4, 0x6) and Saha and Miller -- but none of the batsmen could convert their starts as the home side got wickets at regular intervals.
Put in, Kings XI Punjab were off to a flying start with 10 runs from first over as openers Vohra and Amla put on their second successive fifty-plus opening partnership. Vohra was dropped on 17 by Narine off Trent Boult.
* Narine departs! Axar patel takes the catch
* 5.3: V Aaron to S Narine, 4 runs, 76/0
* Highest score T20 by Sunil Narine
* 2.1: Sandeep Sharma to S Narine, 6 runs
* Kolkata need 171 runs to win against Punjab
* A successful return to IPL for Umesh Yadav
* A Juggling catch by Gambhir!
* 18.6: T Boult to M Sharma, 4 runs, 166/7
* 14.5: P Chawla to W Saha, 6 runs, 134/4
* Big wicket! Maxwell gone.
* Dropped again! Robin Uthappa drops Glenn Maxwell behind the stumps
* Straight into the wickets! Piyush Chawla strikes. Manan Vohra departs
* Fifty comes up for KXIP after four overs
* Sunil Narine drops an easy catch at 3rd man
* Kolkata win toss, opt to ball against Punjab
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Lynn, Umesh Yadav, Yusuf Pathan, Sheldon Jackson, Ankit Singh Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Chris Woakes, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rovman Powell, R Sanjay Yadav, Ishank Jaggi, Darren Bravo, Sayan Ghosh, Colin de Grandhomme
Kings XI: Glenn Maxwell (captain), Manan Vohra, Axar Patel, David Miller, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Shaun Marsh, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Mohit Sharma, Marcus Stoinis, KC Cariappa, Armaan Jaffer, Pardeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, Hashim Amla, Varun Aaron, Eoin Morgan, Matt Henry, Rahul Tewatia, Martin Guptill, Darren Sammy, Rinku Singh, T Natarajan
(With inputs from IANS)