Hosts Kolkata Knight Riders made it eight wins in a row against Kings XI Punjab after they defeated the visitors by eight wickets on Thursday evening. At the coin toss, KKR chose to chase and restricted the visitors to 170-9. The home team surprised everyone when Sunil Narine accompanied Gautam Gambhir at the start of the chase; the pair blitzed their way to a 76-run partnership and almost killed the contest in the first six overs.
Narine wasn’t convincing with the bat; there was the swing and miss, attempting to play without any footwork or getting into the line of the ball.But when his bat met ball, it generally made its way to the fence or over it. In the fifth over, Narine welcomed Varun Aaron with two sixes and a boundary, but was dismissed off the fourth ball when he picked the man at deep midwicket. In all, the Trinidadian – more popular for his bowling – hit four boundaries and three sixes in his 18-ball 37 and the association with his captain was worth 76 runs.
Robin Uthappa(26 from 16 balls) struck a few off the meat of the bat, before he attempted a cheeky ramp shot but lost his stumps to Axar Patel. Gambhir, who had raced to 31 from 16 in the first six overs, dropped anchor thereafter and steered his team past the finish line; the KKR skipper, who never missed an opportunity to collect a boundary through the off-side, remained unbeaten on 72 (49 balls, 11 fours) as the home side got across the finish line in 16.3 overs. He had the company of Manish Pandey (25) on the walk back after the job had been done.
For KXIP, four of the five pacers used had a forgettable night; together, the three Sharmas – Sandeep, Ishant and Mohit, and Varun Aaron (1-23) conceded 97 runs in 10 overs.
Earlier in the evening, Kings XI Punjab, put in to bat, got off to a rocket start. The opening pair of HashimAmla and Manan Vohra came out all guns blazing. Amla started proceedings in style, picking up two leg-side boundaries off Trent Boult’s first over, while Vohra opened his account in style, depositing the returning Umesh Yadav over the square-leg fence.
In the third over, Vohra collected consecutive boundaries off Boult and then meted out the same treatment to Chris Woakes in the following over. KXIP had raced to 53 by the end of the fifth over. Piyush Chawla was introduced into the attack in the sixth over, and the leg-spinner struck with his very first delivery when he castled Vohra (28 from 19 balls) with a googly.
Glenn Maxwell walked out to bat in the eighth over after the Marcus Stoinis-at-three experiment yielded only 9 runs. The KXIP captain signaled intent immediately when he punished Chawla in the tenth over, hitting the leggie for a six and two boundaries. A bit of calm returned to proceedings as Narine conceded only two runs in the eleventh over, after which debutant Colin de Grandhomme dismissed Amla who had made a patient 27-ball 25.
In the following over, Umesh Yadav dealt KXIP a big blow when he had Maxwell (25 from 14 balls) nicking to the wicket-keeper. David Miller (28 from 19 balls) and WriddhimanSaha (25 from 18 balls) then contributed in almost equal measure as the fifth wicket pair added 57 runs in 5.2 overs. In the eighteenth over, Umesh Yadav struck thrice in the space of four deliveries; he dismissed the dangerous Miller and the well-set Saha off successive deliveries to derail KXIP’s innings.
KXIP lost five wickets while adding 15 runs in the final 2.4 overs to eventually finish at 170-9. The visitors were at least 20-30 runs short of what they should have got after being 134-4 after 15 overs.
It is not often that a bowling side would be able to restrict a batting team to 170, despite being as sloppy as KKR were on Thursday. The bowlers lacked discipline (13 runs were conceded through wides, two no balls were bowled), the fielders were guilty of dropping catches and extra runs were conceded through lapses in the field.
Umesh Yadav returned with figures of 4-33 – the first four-wicket haul in VIVO IPL 2017, while Sunil Narine was the most-economical bowler for KKR, returning with figures of 4-0-19-1. Woakes, Chawla and de Grandhomme picked up a wicket each too.
Kings XI Punjab: 170-9 (Manan Vohra 28, David Miller 28, Umesh Yadav 4-33, Chris Woakes 2-30) lost to Kolkata Knight Riders: (Sunil Narine 37, Gautam Gambhir 72*)
Man of the Match: Sunil Narine