Gony stars in Kings XI win

Mohali, April 16 (IANS) In the end it was Manpreet Gony's 18-ball 42 which made the difference for Kings XI Punjab who beat defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders by four runs in an Indian Premier League thriller at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here Tuesday.

Chasing Punjab's 157/9, Kolkata could only manage 153/9 in their quota of 20 overs. With 11 runs required off the last over bowled by Praveen Kumar, KKR only managed six giving the hosts their second win in four matches.

After a bad start by the visitors losing two wickets -- opener Manvinder Bisla (0) and Jacques Kallis (1) -- in the first eight balls of their innings, KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir (60) and English recruit Eoin Morgan (47) struck a fantastic third wicket partnership of 105 runs in 11.5 overs.

The Gambhir-Morgan partnership put KKR's ship back on course for the 158-run target but Gony also struck with the ball taking Gambhir's wicket which led to the slide of KKR's innings.

Facing some tight bowling, KKR managed only 11 runs in three overs after losing their skipper which increased the pressure on the lower order. KKR tried to steady their ship with Yusuf Pathan (13) and Rajat Bhatia (16), who hit two sixes in the penultimate over, bringing down the asking rate from 30 runs in two overs to 11 in one.

However, regular loss of wickets gave away the victory to the hosts.

Earlier, off-spinner Sunil Narine clinched the first hat-trick of the sixth edition of the tourney. Vindicating his skipper's decision to bowl first, Narine (3/33) along with Sachitra Senanayake (2/28) ran through the Kings XI batting order before Gony's four boundaries and three sixes put the hosts back into contention.

Gony clobbered Narine for 23 runs in the penultimate over to bring his team back on track, helping Kings XI reach a respectable total. Gony came in to bat when his team was tottering at 99/6. From thereon, Man of the Match Gony changed the script.

Narine's hat-trick victims were David Hussey (12), Azhar Mahmood (0) and Gurkeerat Singh (0), as the batsmen had no clue about what the mystery man was trying to bowl.

Opener Mandeep Singh (41) and David Miller (20) were the highest scorers for Punjab before Gony stepped in. Mandeep, who hit six boundaries, and Manan Vohra (17) added 37 runs for the second wicket before both got out in quick succession.

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