Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir’s 82-run opening stand paved the way for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) to grab a six-wicket victory against Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium . While KKr was clinical in iots show, The Punjab outfit after beating Pune Super giants in their last match strangely looked a listless outfit in the middle.
For KKR, Uthappa scored a quickfire 28-ball 53, while skipper Gambhir got to a run-a-ball 34. For Kings XI, Axar Patel and Pardeep Sahu bagged two wickets each. Earlier, the Knights led by mystery spinner Sunil Narine’s 2-22 once again put up a brilliant performance with the ball to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 138/8.
Besides Narine, South African speedster Morne Morkel returned 2-27. For Kings XI, Shaun Marsh top-scored with an unbeaten 41-ball 56.
In pursuit of 139, KKR started off on a canter with Uthappa being the aggressor. He smacked Sandeep Sharma first and then took on South African pacer Kyle Abbott.
Skipper Gambhir, meanwhile, concentrated on running hard between the wickets. Kings XI could have got him run out in the fifth over but David Miller failed to hit the stumps with Gambhir stranded in the middle of the strip.
After six overs, KKR had raced to 65/0, with Uthappa going strong.
The Karnataka-born batsman managed to get to his fifty but then was adjudged leg-before-wicket off a Sahu leg-spinner.
But the dismissal could not curtail the scoring rate. A few overs later against the run of play, Gambhir skied one in the air and was brilliantly caught by Glen Maxwell in the deep.
With only 29 runs left, Manish Pandey (12) who was looking good, missed a straighter one from Axar Patel which crashed onto his citadel. He was followed by Shakib Al Hasan (11) who holed out at third man.
Yusuf Pathan (12) and Suryakumar Yadav (11) then took their side across the line with 17 balls to spare.
In the first innings, the hosts had a steady beginning even though they lost Manan Vohra (8) early. Murali Vijay and Marsh then got together to stitch together a 26-run partnership and at the end of the powerplay, the Kings had put on a decent 41/1.
However, Vijay (26) failed to pick a Piyush Chawla googly and was cleaned up in the eighth over.
Wriddhiman Saha (8) followed soon after knicking one through to the wicket-keeper.
Next to edge one to keeper Uthappa was captain David Miller who went back to the dugout after scoring just 6 runs. At that stage, Kings XI were struggling at 72/4 in the 13th over.
The dangerous Maxwell (4), who played a key role in Kings XI’s win last game, threw his wicket away picking out Chawla at cover with a reverse-sweep.
The hundred finally came up in the 16th over with Axar accompanying Marsh, but the former did not last long either.
But Marsh stayed till the end to ensure his team scraped through to a decent total. The last over from Andre Russell produced 18 runs as the Kings signed off with some momentum.
Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab: 138/8 (Shaun Marsh not out 56; Sunil Narine 2-22, Morne Morkel 2-27) vs Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): 141/4 (Robin Uthappa 53, Gautam Gambhir 34; Pardeep Sahu 2-18, Axar Patel 2-19) – IANS