Buoyed by a record-levelling sixth win on the trot and the confirmation of their place in the playoffs, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will now gun for a top-two finish when they take on a resurgent Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in their IPL fixture in Kolkata on Saturday.
In a season reminiscent of their triumphant 2012 campaign, Kolkata Knight Riders have emerged as the team to beat with some clinical performances, be it against formidable two-time former champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) or a misfiring Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). For KKR, the challenge from here on would be to continue the awesome run, while Sunrisers Hyderabad would look to keep their playoff hopes alive in the concluding league match.
Sunrisers Hyderabad chased down Chennai Super Kings' 186 with six wickets and two balls to spare on Thursday night, for a second consecutive win.
The brightest star in KKR's campaign has been India discard Robin Uthappa has emerged as a frontrunner for the England-bound squad, while 'perennial performer' Sunil Narine continues to fox the opposition batsmen with his guile to remain their trump card no 1. The duo have been the backbone of KKR's batting and bowling respectively but one cannot discount the performances of Shakib Al Hasan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan, Umesh Yadav and skipper Gautam Gambhir. It was, however, an ominous start for KKR after they lost four matches in a row while chasing but Gambhir and Co shed the chokers' tag in style winning five in a row batting second.
KKR were tested when Virat Kohli put them in to set a total last night but there was no problem as Uthappa and Shakib's blitz took them to a handsome 195/4 and RCB fell short by 30 runs. Uthappa slammed an unbeaten 83 from 51 balls in a 121-run partnership with Shakib (60 off 38). Uthappa's fifth half century took him past Glen Maxwell in the leading run-getters list and earned him a second man-of-the-match in two matches.
Later, Narine became the destroyer in chief and took the key wickets of Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and AB de Villiers en route to his 4/20 to seal a sixth win on the trot, a record they had only achieved in 2012.
While Uthappa dons the Orange Cap with 572 runs from 13 matches, Narine has the Purple Cap jointly with Bhuvneshwar Kumar with 20 wickets each.