A hurricane 42-ball 88 from Chris Gayle powered Kolkata Knight Riders to 200 for three against Kings XI Punjab in their return leg Indian Premier League match at Eden Gardens here today.
Gayle smashed eight sixes and six fours in his blistering knock to power Knight Riders to their highest IPL III total. The West Indies opener and Manoj Tiwary (35 from 32 balls) added 101 runs for the second wicket, while captain Sourav Ganguly chipped in with a 31-ball 36.
KKR's previous highest in IPL III was also against the Punjab side when they scored 183 for five for a winning cause in Mohali.
Having opted to rest big-hitting Kiwi opener Brendon McCullum, who joined the squad yesterday, KKR began positively with Ganguly looking in his silken touch.
Continuing from where he left in the last match, Ganguly hardly took any time to settle down and found his sweet timing with boundaries flowing from his blade.
He hit two boundaries in the first over bowled by Irfan Pathan and went on to launch Shalabh Srivastava for a four and then a big clean six over his head.
Gayle, on the other hand, rotated the strike as the opening duo scored 46 from the first five overs, going more than nine runs per over.
But just when Ganguly looked ominous his innings was cut short by Ravi Bopara, who bowled an excellent first over and his side's eighth to reduce KKR to 56 for one. Ganguly hit five fours and a six in his knock.
Ganguly's wicket slowed down the pace of KKR scoring as Manoj Tiwary, elevated to number three, took some time to settle down.
If first five overs yielded 46 runs, only 23 runs came from the next five overs and Kings XI Punjab looked like making a comeback.
But soon Gayle-force hit the Eden with a helpless Bopara at the receiving end, conceding 33 runs from his third over. Gayle plundered four consecutive sixes in the 13th over bowled by Bopara with two of them falling at L block debris of the Eden as the ball went missing and had to be changed twice.
The West Indian cruised to his fifty from 30 balls as Bopara was smashed to 3-0-43-0 with Knight Riders 122 for one after the productive 13th over.
Tiwary played intelligently giving the strikes to Gayle who continued his big-hitting ways as Punjab struggled on the field and a spilled catch by Piyush Chawla when the West Indian was on 80 did not help Kings XI's cause.
The ominous-looking Gayle hit two sixes of Chawla in the 15th over before he was dismissed by Juan Theron in the next over.
This is the highest score by any team in the IPL at the Eden.
The Kolkata Knight Riders opt to bat first as they make only one change bringing in J Unadkat in place of B McCullum against the Kings XI Punjab.
Kolkata Knight Riders captain Sourav Ganguly won the toss and opted to bat against Kings XI Punjab in their return leg Indian Premier League match at Eden Gardens here today.
KKR made one change bringing in rookie Gujarat left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat in place of Mohnish Parmar.
Kings XI Punjab made three changes. Mahela Jayawardene came back in place of an injured Shaun Marsh with while Brett Lee and S Sreesanth made way for Juan Theron and Ramesh Powar.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Sourav Ganguly (c), Chris Gayle, Cheteshwar Pujara, Manoj Tiwary, David Hussey, Angelo Mathews, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Ajit Agarkar, Murali Kartik, Shane Bond and Jaydev Unadkat.
Kings XI Punjab: Kumar Sangakkara (c), Mahela Jayawardene, Manvinder Bisla, Ravi Bopara, Yuvraj Singh, Irfan Pathan, Juan Theron, Piyush Chawla, Shalabh Srivastava, Bipul Sharma and Ramesh Powar.