The Kolkata Knight Riders rebounded from their loss to Mumbai Indians by trouncing the Kings XI Punjab by eight wickets at the Eden Gardens to go to the top of the table. The Kings XI Punjab’s unbeaten run came to an end after they had beaten the Rising Pune Supergiants and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, both at Indore.
There were many star performers for the Knight Riders with Gautam Gambhir playing a sensational knock of 72 and Umesh Yadav bowling a brilliant spell of 4/33. However, the performance that turned the match for the Knight Riders was that of Sunil Narine’s with the bat.
Yes! You heard it right. In the absence of Chris Lynn, KKR opted for the Windies spinner to open the batting alongside Gambhir and his 18-ball 37 gave KKR a brilliant start upon which Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, and Manish Pandey cashed in to take the side home within 17 overs.
The Kings XI Innings
The Knight Riders had won the toss and opted to field first. Manan Vohra gave the Kings XI a strong start before he was dismissed. His dismissal was followed by Hashim Amla, Marcus Stoinis, and captain Glenn Maxwell following suit, putting the Kings XI at 98/4.
However, a 57-run partnership off just 32 balls between Wriddhiman Saha and David Miller elevated KXIP’s run-rate and put them in a position to post an imposing target. But that was not to be as a sensational 18th over by Umesh Yadav saw the seamer account for both Saha and Miller in addition to Axar Patel – limiting the Kings XI Punjab to 170/9 in their 20 overs.
Yadav was the pick of the KKR bowlers, picking up four wickets for 33 runs from his four overs while Sunil Narine was the most economical of the lot, conceding only 19 runs from his four, dismissing Marcus Stoinis in the process.
However, KKR’s fielding which was poor during their previous game against the Mumbai Indians, was equally if not more horrible this time as well with Sunil Narine dropping Manan Vohra during the third over in addition to Umesh Yadav’s inability to prevent Marcus Stoinis’ boundary and the two overthrows in a single ball that resulted in Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron running four during the end of the 19th over.
After BBL and PSL, now Narine is sent to open the batting in the IPL
A couple of months back, during the Big Bash League in Australia, Melbourne Renegades’ skipper Aaron Finch made a jaw-dropping decision by deciding to send Sunil Narine to open the batting and the move did pay off a few times as the Windies spinner gave a steady start to the team. That trend followed in the PSL, where the Windies man was able to make a connection with the sweet spot with much regularity.
And following those adventures, Gautam Gambhir made a bold call by making Narine his opening partner ahead of Robin Uthappa who was expected to replace the injured Chris Lynn as the second opener. In only the second ball of the KKR innings, Narine smashed a boundary off Sandeep Sharma.
The usual off-spinner then hit a six off Sharma during the third over before smashing two consecutive boundaries off Glenn Maxwell’s bowling during the fifth over. However, Narine’s best was to come in the sixth over as he hit two successive sixes off Varun Aaron off the first two deliveries before hitting a four in the next delivery to take KKR’s score to 76/0 – their highest score during the power play.
The left-hander was dismissed in the fourth delivery after he couldn’t get enough elevation on a pull shot and found the safe hands of Axar Patel in the deep to give KXIP their first breakthrough. Narine departed after scoring 37 from just 18 deliveries.
Gambhir’s knock takes KKR home
However, Narine’s dismissal did not affect KKR much as Gautam Gambhir along with Robin Uthappa began to milk the Punjab bowlers. After the latter’s dismissal for 26, Manish Pandey joined the KKR skipper who soon reached to his second fifty of the tournament.
The Kings XI Punjab bowlers were helpless as Gambhir and Pandey hit one boundary after another, taking KKR past the finish line with 21 balls to spare. Gambhir ended his innings on a brilliant 72 from just 49 deliveries which consisted of 11 fours while Pandey ended on 25 from 16 deliveries which comprised two boundaries and a six.
Sunil Narine was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant performance with the ball as well as with the bat, which was more than enough to compensate for his sloppy fielding. The win put KKR on top of the table above the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Knight Riders will now take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at Kolkata while Kings XI Punjab will take on the Delhi Daredevils at Delhi with both matchups taking place tomorrow.