Rising Pune Supergiants have brightened up their chances of a play-off berth by beating Kolkata Knight Riders by four wickets at Eden Gardens, Kolkata.
The victory took Pune at par with Kolkata on the points table with 14 points from 11 matches, but Kolkata, however, stayed ahead in the race because of the net run rate (NRR).
Rahul Tripathi was the game changer. He continued his good show this season by hitting humongous strikes after Kolkata put up a target of 155 for 8 on being put into bat by Pune captain Steven Smith.
The 26-year-old began his innings by smashing, pacer Nathan Coulter Nile for three fours and one six in the third over and followed it up with a six and four in Umesh Yadav’s next over.
Tripathi continued playing in the same vein in spite of losing partners Ajinkya Rahane and Smith early in quick succession. The youngster sealed the match in Pune’s favor by helping the team reach 74 in the power-play. He was taken down by C Woakes in the 18.5 over, but till then it was too late, as he had already damaged the hosts by scoring 93 off 52 balls.
Earlier, a late onslaught by Suryakumar Yadav (30 off 16 balls) – after Manish Pandey (37 off 32 balls) and Colin de Grandhomme (36 off 19 balls) had steadied the ship - helped Kolkata put up a fighting score.
Jaydev Unadkat bowled the first wicket-maiden in this season, sending back Sunil Narine off the sixth ball. Sheldon Jackson, who was promoted up the order, also did not last long that forced the captain, Gautam Gambhir to open up early in the match. He hit Ben Strokes for consecutive fours and followed it up with a four and six off Sundar, but met the same fate as his other teammates; Gambhir was caught at deep mid-wicket by Rahane in trying to clear the boundary.
At 55/4 after 9.1 overs, Pandey and Grandhomme took the responsibility and kept the scoreboard moving by finding the boundary at regular intervals.