MUMBAI: Skipper Gautam Gambhir cracked an unbeaten half-century as Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed Pune Warriors by seven wickets on Thursday to book a place in the Indian Premier League playoffs.
The left-hander hit seven fours in his 54-run knock off 46 balls as Kolkata overhauled a modest 119-run target with 20 balls to spare at the D.Y. Patil Stadium.
Gambhir promoted himself to the opener's slot after Jacques Kallis picked up an injury while bowling earlier in the game, and anchored the innings following the first-over dismissal of Shreevats Goswami.
Manoj Tiwary chipped in with a run-a-ball 24 and Yusuf Pathan scored 29 to help Kolkata register their eighth win from 13 games.
IPL debutants Pune, already out of contention for a place in the final four, slumped to their ninth defeat in the Twenty20 competition.
Kolkata spinners struck early, removing Pune's top five batsmen cheaply after Gambhir won the toss and decided to bowl on a slow, turning track.
Pathan gave Kolkata the first breakthrough when he dismissed Jesse Ryder (one) in the second over before returning to send back Robin Uthappa, caught superbly by Brett Lee near the ropes for 12.
Left-arm spinner Shakib Al Hasan heaped further misery on Pune, accounting for Callum Ferguson and former Kolkata skipper Sourav Ganguly, who was tentative for most part of his innings.
Ganguly struck 18 off 22 balls, including the only six of Pune innings off left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah.
Yuvraj (24) tried to go for a late counter-attack but nicked behind the wickets off paceman Lakshmipathy Balaji (2-7) in the final over.
Pune Warriors 118-7 in 20 overs (Yuvraj Singh 24; L. Balaji 2-7, Shakib Al Hasan 2-16, Yusuf Pathan 2-23) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders 119-3 in 16.4 overs (G. Gambhir 54 not out, Yusuf Pathan 29) by seven wickets. AGENCIES