KKR batsman Eoin Morgan during his stroke-filled knock of 47 in 21 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad on April 14, 2013. (BCCI)
Kolkata: The top four batsmen laid out the carpet and the bowlers walked over it as Kolkata Knight Riders got back onto the points table after two losses in a row, beating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 48 runs on a sluggish Eden Gardens surface. Kolkata made a promising start with their first fifty-run opening stand of the season but it was Eoin Morgan's blast that turned a competitive total into a dominant one. In reply, Hyderabad left too much for Thisara Perera to do as Jacques Kallis backed his brisk 41 with three wickets.
Apart from Dale Steyn, each of the bowlers was taken for boundaries inside the Powerplay. Part-time offspinner Hanuma Vihari was struck for three on-side fours - two to Manvinder Bisla, one to Gautam Gambhir - and Ishant Sharma and Perera were both charged as Bisla went inside-out with precision and power. KKR's openers took 48 off the Powerplay, their best effort of the season and level with the season's best put on by Mumbai Indians against Pune Warriors on Sunday.
Against the run of play, Bisla lofted legspinner Karan Sharma to deep midwicket to end a stand of 59 in 7.4 overs. But with the captain in fine fettle, KKR's run rate remained healthy. Gambhir's feet moved well, and two shots off Amit Mishra stood out: in consecutive balls the batsman stepped out and whipped four over midwicket and went over extra cover. There was also force to Gambhir's batting, as he swatted Mishra past midwicket for four and Sharma for six over wide long-on. Gambhir eventually fell for 53, bowled while attempting to thwack Ashish Reddy over the onside.
The run rate at this time had dipped to 7.42, but Morgan upped the tempo against Mishra - first lofting six down the ground, then under-edging between the wicketkeeper's legs for four. Kallis was more orthodox, making room to drive Ishant behind point and wide of cover for consecutive boundaries.
The 18th over was brutal as Morgan tore into Perera - a pull through square was followed by six into the sightscreen, and then a swat past between midwicket and mid-on and a cut past point. Steyn bowled the penultimate over and was flat-batted over long-off for six, but affected a direct hit to run out Morgan. The third-wicket pair had put on 67, with Morgan outscoring Kallis 47 to 16. KKR managed eight off the final over, with Kallis run out for a 27-ball 41 on the last ball.
Chasing a stiff 181, Hyderabad were given 59-run start but the fact that it consumed nine overs meant that when the first strategic timeout was taken the required rate had escalated from 9.05 at the start of the innings to 11.27. Cameron White struggled to time his shots through the off side initially and Parthiv Patel's 27 ate up 31 balls. Looking to heave Kallis away, Patel was bowled on the final ball of the ninth over.
White decided to step it up, punishing Rajat Bhatia for consecutive boundaries, and was looking threatening before he fell to a leaping catch from Yusuf Pathan just inside the long-on boundary. Bhatia tightened the screws in the next over, having Kumar Sangakkara caught by a diving Manoj Tiwary from long-off, and the match was almost over as a contest.
Hyderabad failed to find the boundary from the time White assaulted Bhatia in the tenth over until Perera swung Sunil Narine for six off the second ball of the 14th, and an excellent five-run 15th over from L Balaji left the visitors needing 77 off the last five. Narine got Ravi Teja with the third ball of the 16th over, the batsman caught by Tiwary at long-on, and the second timeout was taken with Hyderabad panting on 107 for 4.
Sri Lankan offspinner Sachitra Senayake picked up a wicket on debut, Kallis bowled Perera for 36 to finish with excellent figures of 3 for 13 and Bhatia claimed another as the match fizzed out to a tame close.