Sourav Ganguly led from the front with a blazing 54-ball 88 as a resurgent Kolkata Knight Riders bulldozed a hapless Deccan Chargers by 24 runs in their return-leg Indian Premier League match on Thursday.
Ganguly blasted nine fours and five sixes and added 78 runs for the fourth wicket with David Hussey to take the Kolkata Knight Riders to a competitive 181 for six at the Eden Gardens here.
The home team then returned to restrict the defending champions to 157 for five to zoom to the fifth place, just behind Rajasthan Royals with eight points from eight matches in the points table.
Barring offie Mohnish Parmar, the KKR bolwers put up a disciplined performance with Shane Bond, Angelo Matthews, Murali Kartik, Ajit Agarkar and Chris Gayle taking one wicket each to contribute to their team’s win.
Chasing the tall 182, opener Herschelle Gibbs hit 50 from 45 balls including a six and gave KKR a run for their money before Shane Bond evicted the South African to script the turn around.
Andrew Symonds hit a 37 ball 45 but 34 runs from the last over proved to be a bit too much for the Chargers who had lost their opening match to the Knights earlier.
Opting to bat, Ganguly set his home ground on fire with his fireworks. The ace southpaw stood tall among the ruins of Chris Gayle (4), Cheteshwar Pujara (17) and Manoj Tiwary (5).
David Hussey gave a fine support to Ganguly at the other end with a 27-ball 31 that included one four and two sixes.
Deccan Chargers’ strike bowler Kemar Roach was ripped apart by the Knights as the West Indian conceded 48 runs from his quota of four overs.
The Hyderabadi skipper, Adam Gilchrist, too had a poor day behind the stumps, missing a couple of stumpings — when Ganguly was on 67 and when Hussey was on 19.
Jaskiran Singh, Andrew Symonds and Pragyan Ojha claimed two wickets apiece for the chargers.
Chasing the tall target, the Deccan began all charged up with KKR at the receiving end. Ganguly started off the proceedings with rookie off-spinner Mohnish Parmar, a gamble that did not pay off.
The Gujarati off-spinner conceded 14 from the first over with Herschelle Gibbs plundering three boundaries. A miss run-out chance of Gibbs in the second over did not help the cause as Deccan had a flying start with 23 runs in two overs.
But KKR got a breakthrough dismissing the dangerman Adam Gilchrist (9) even as Gibbs stayed on at the other end and continued his assault to keep the target within reach.
Missed by Mathews from his own bowling on 35, the South African grew in stature and went on to complete his fifty.
Chargers were crusing along with 121 for two when Bond gave the most crucial breakthrough, dismissing Gibbs immediately after reaching his half-century.
Gibbs added 46 runs with Mohnish Mishra (29 from 16 balls) for the second wicket and then went on to add 44 with Symonds before his fall.
Soon the Chargers slipped to 125 for four with Rohit Sharma (2) being bowled by Murali Kartik as the asking run-rate crept above 14 mark and KKR completed the formality.
Earlier, Ganguly began positively with a couple of fours in the first over even as his opening partner Gayle lasted just seven balls before being dismissed in the third over.
After being hit for 10 runs in the first over, Kemar Roach was replaced by Andrew Symonds and the Australian deceived Gayle to be caught by Roach at long on.
Pujara, who was brought in place of Mandeep Singh, also did not last long. Having survived a run-out, Pujara looked good with some orthodox shots but he soon became Symonds’ second victim as KKR slipped to 46 for two in the sixth over.
Pragyan Ojha then struck in his first over, dismissing the stylish Manoj Tiwary as KKR were soon reduced to 68 for three in a space of 14 balls.
However, Ganguly held on at the other end with boundaries flowing from his blade to maintain a healthy run-rate. The former India skipper quickly notched up his second fifty of IPL 3 with a huge six over long on off Ojha as the Knights got past the 100-mark in the 14th over.
Hussey also looked good at the other end and batted watchfully and gave maximum strikes to Ganguly.
The first 10 overs yielded 80 runs for three wickets but in the next five overs KKR could manage only 36 but the duo ensured there is no more casualty and added 50 runs together.
With seven wickets in hand for the last five overs, Ganguly exploded in Ojha’s last over and hit the left-arm spinner for three sixes. In pursuit of a fourth one, Ganguly was caught by Rohit Sharma near the deep midwicket boundary.
After Ganguly’s dismissal, Angelo Mathews (4) and Hussey took KKR past the 150-mark before falling in quick succession to Jaskiran Singh in the 19th over.
But Wriddhiman Saha (10 from four balls) and Ajit Agarkar (8 from 5 balls) added 18 runs in last nine balls for setting a stiff target.