Kings XI Punjab tightened the screws around Kolkata Knight Riders on a turning pitch and came out trumps, but just, as they managed a narrow 2 run victory over the hosts. After a 5-wicket haul from Sunil Narine restricted Kings XI to just 134, KKR started well but kept losing wickets regularly as the middle order collapsed in a heap and could only manage 132 from 20 overs.
Earlier, Gambhir won the toss and decided to field first. Sunil Narine struck in his first over when Gilchrist 5 (9) tried to slog him over mid-wicket but only ended up edging the ball high, which was taken easily by Tiwari at cover. Narine accounted for another dangerous Australian in his 2nd over as Shaun Marsh 1 (6) was bowled through the gates by a delivery that came back in for the left-hander. It was the ‘knuckle ball’ that fooled the batsman as he was left playing through the line as the ball sneaked in.
Mandeep Singh maintained a steady run rate and tried to force the pace against Unadkat as he and David Hussey were involved in a 52 run stand for the third wicket. But with Shakib-al-Hasan and Rajat Bhatia tightening the screws from the other end, neither Mandeep nor Hussey were able to clear the boundary regularly. Eventually, Shakib got rid of a dangerous looking Mandeep 38 (34) as he slogged straight to deep mid wicket after a 16 ball boundary drought, with just 75 on board for Kings XI Punjab after the end of 12 overs. Hussey 32 (31) soon followed as Paras Dogra, who came in for Paul Valthaty for this game, called and then refused the single as Hussey tried to get back after reaching halfway down the pitch. Bhatia was able to remove the bails catching Hussey just short of his ground. Dogra 6 (11) and Mascarenhas 0 (1) couldn’t handle the medium pace of Rajat Bhatia as they were caught at long on and by the keeper respectively.
Narine then returned to dismiss Bipul Sharma 12 (11) and Praveen Kumar 0 (1), off consecutive deliveries. Bipul Sharma feathered an edge to Bisla and PK was bowled by a delivery similar to the one which accounted for Marsh earlier. This time the off stump was pegged back as Praveen expected the ball to come in and played inside the line. Harmeet Singh 14 (6) was then dismissed in the last over as he tried to scoop a delivery over the keeper but could only lift it till his shoulder as Bisla did well to hold on to the ball, thus giving Narine is first 5-wicket haul in IPL. Bhargav Bhatt, who replace Parvinder Awana in the XI, then cleared the long on audaciously off the last delivery of the innings as he connected his slog to a turning delivery from Narine to end Kings XI Punjab’s score at 134, giving the bowlers something to defend.
Gambhir started the chase confidently with consecutive boundaries off Bhatt in the second over of the innings before Dogra pulled off a blinder at cover as he dived to his left and held one-handed on to a shot that Kallis 1 (5) failed to keep down. Gambhir 22 (13) continued his rich form but gave away his wicket as he pushed lazily at a delivery from Mascarenhas and the bowler was alert enough to latch on to the return to dismiss the KKR captain. Tiwari 21 (27) and Bisla then added 44 off 7.4 overs before Bhatt trapped the former plumb in front of the wicket and one over later, Bisla 27 (25) failed to read the googly from Piyush Chawla and was clean bowled. Yusuf Pathan followed 3 balls later as he tried to sweep from outside off but the ball sneaked onto the stump down the leg side and disturbed the furniture. It was then Shakib-al-Hasan’s turn to throw away his wicket as he top edged another googly from Chawla 2 balls after being beaten by a googly from the same bowler. As the required run-rate crept up over 8, Debabrata Das 35 (23) provided some late boost to keep KKR in the hunt but a brilliant last over from Harmeet brought only 6 runs as KKR were left short by 2 runs.
Kings XI Punjab 134/9 after 20.0 overs (Mandeep 38, D Hussey 32, S Narine 5/19)
Kolkata Knight Riders 132/7 after 20.0 overs (D Das 35, Bisla 27, P Chawla 3/18)
Man of the Match – Sunil Narine