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Kolkata Knight Riders regain pride with thumping win over the Titans

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The Kolkata Knight Riders ended their Champions League T20 sojourn on a high, thumping the Titans by 99 runs at Newlands, Cape Town. Being put into pat on a sluggish pitch, the Knight Riders posted an exceptional 188-5 in their 20 overs with Debabrata Das doing some serious damage towards the end of the innings, smacking an unbeaten 43 from just 19 deliveries after the top three batsmen had given KKR a terrific platform. The Titans meanwhile had a poor outing, following up their dismal bowling performance with an even worse batting display as they collapsed for 89 inside 17 overs with just three batsmen getting into double figures.

The result means that KKR will leave South Africa a little happier on their flight home later today, while the Titans still have some work to do before they are guaranteed a semi-final spot. KKR Skipper Gautam Gambhir's previous team, the Delhi Daredevils will be doubly thrilled with the result as it means they are all but through to the semi-finals. The Auckland Aces will need to thrash the Perth Scorchers and the Titans themselves will need to also quite literally rout Delhi for the Daredevils to be denied a knock-out berth.

The lack of pressure was obvious when KKR came out to bat today, having lost the toss and been asked to make first use of the pitch. It was a decision that would end up coming back to haunt Martin van Jaarsveld.

Manvinder Bisla got KKR off to a flier, spanking 27 from just 14 balls including 2 sixes and 3 fours before Ethy Mbhalati got the better of him. Gautam Gambhir, who had been playing second fiddle till then joined the fun, while Brendon McCullum too wasted little time in cashing in on the powerplay overs. Kolkata posted an exceptional 67-1 from the first 6 overs, and raced to 95 before McCullum fell for a 20-ball 36.

Kolkata had a poor middle period to the game, losing 4 wickets for 38 runs 7.1 overs before Debabrata Das took over, smashing 43 at a strike rate of 226. Das got some useful company from Manoj Tiwary, who rotated the strike well in his innings of 13, thus making sure Kolkata's good early work didn't go to waste.

Faced with an imposing target, the Titans needed to get off to a good start and Henry Davids raced to 13 from 9 balls before Jacques Kallis got the better of him with one that kept a tad low. Wicketkeeper Heino Kuhn was bumped up the order in an attempt to speed up the run rate, but made a slow 10 from 14 balls before he missed one from Laxmipathy Balaji. Van Jaarsveld followed for naught in the same over, and the Titans were suddenly in a spot of bother.

That spot soon turned into a huge hole when CLT20 top scorer Jacques Rudolph departed for 25 two balls later, falling to the talented Iqbal Abdulla. Sadly Rudolph's departure marked the end of the Titans in the contest with none of the rest of their batsmen making their way into double figures.

Laxmipathy Balaji, restored to his preferred third seamer role was in the wickets once again, taking 4-19 on a pitch that suited him perfectly, while Manoj Tiwary even chipped in with 2 sticks with his part-time leg spin.

The Titans will hope to bounce back strongly from what was a real poor outing when they take on the Delhi Daredevils in what could well be a Group A decider on Tuesday.

Mini Scorecard:

Kolkata Knight Riders 188-5 (20 overs, 9.4rpo)
G Gambhir 44 (36) R van der Merwe 2-18
D Das 43* (19) D Wiese 1-21

Titans 89 all out (16.4 overs, 5.34rpo)
J Rudolph 25 (24) L Balaji 4-19
H Davids 13 (9) M Tiwary 2-8

Kolkata win by 99 runs