Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders scored a convincing 46-run victory over struggling Pune Warriors, in Pune, to keep alive their outside hopes of qualifying for the play-off stage of the Indian Premier League.
Opting to bat, Kolkata first rode on skipper Gautam Gambhir's 50 and a late surge by Ryan ten Doeschate (31 off 21) to post a challenging 152 for six, and then dished out a clinical bowling performance to dismiss Pune for 106 in 19.3 overs.
By virtue of this win, Kolkata moved up to 10 points from 13 games. But in order to have an outside chance of making it to the play-offs, the defending champions need to win all their remaining three games.
Pune were off to a horrible start to their run-chase; their batsmen found the going tough against a disciplined bowling attack and scored just 41 runs for the loss of three wickets at the halfway stage.
Pune lost skipper Aaron Finch, star player Yuvraj Singh and Udit Birla in quick succession.
While Finch was bowled by Jacques Kallis (2/27), Yuvraj edged an away-going Laxmipathy Balaji (3/19) delivery to Manvinder Bisla behind the stumps.
Birla's stay at the crease was a struggle which finally came to an end when Iqbal Abdulla (2/26) went through his defence.
Robin Uthappa (31 off 35) tried his best to keep up with the run-rate but failed to keep it going as he was caught by Gambhir at backward point off Abdullah.
Angelo Mathews played a rearguard 28-ball 40-run but that was not enough to save Pune from slumping to its 11th defeat in the tournament.
Mathews decorated his innings with four huge sixes before perishing in search of quick runs.
Earlier, Pune wasted a good start, leaking runs in the death overs, to allow Kolkata Knight Riders post a challenging total.
Kolkata were in a spot of bother at 99 for five at one stage, but the Pune bowlers gave away a whopping 53 runs in the final four overs to help the visitors cross the 150-run mark.
Kolkata put up fifty in quick time after electing to bat, thanks mainly to Gambhir (50 off 44).
The Pune bowlers, however, put brakes on Kolkata’s scoring by picking up wickets at regular intervals.
Bisla (12) was the first to depart, stumped by Mahesh Rawat off Bhuvneshwar Kumar (3/25). Off-spinner Parveez Rasool (1/23), the first cricketer from Jammu and Kashmir to play in the IPL, leaked nine runs in his opening over.
But Rasool came back strongly in the next over and dismissed big man Kallis to bag his first wicket of the tournament. Kallis was caught by Mathews at short cover off a fuller delivery from the off-spinner.
Gambhir, however, was steady at the other end and notched his fifty off 43 balls with the help of six boundaries.
But Mitchell Marsh's (2/7) two wickets in two overs changed the equation. Marsh first accounted for Eoin Morgan, who scored a run-a-ball 15, and then, an over later, he claimed the crucial wicket of Gambhir, caught by Mathews.
Yusuf Pathan too did not help his side's cause as he departed cheaply. He edged one to wicketkeeper Rawat off Kumar while going for a booming cut.
With Kolkata in a tight corner, it took a quickfire knock from ten Doeschate, who played his first IPL match this year, to bail the visitors out.
Ten Doeschate used the long handle to great effect and smashed Mathews for a six and two fours to pick 17 runs from the 17th over.
Ten Doeschate and Manoj Tiwary added 38 runs in three overs to provide some momentum to the KKR innings.
Ten Doeschate finally perished, caught by Krishnakant Uphadyay off Kumar, but not before decorating his 21-ball knock with three fours and one six.
Towards the end, Tiwary (15 not out off 10) and Rajat Bhatia (13 not out off 5) played short cameos to help Kolkata swell their total.