Kolkata Knight Riders extended their imposing recent head-to-head record against Kings XI Punjab with another clinical victory at the Eden Gardens. The home team skipper won the toss and predictably opted to chase.
Despite extracting starts from quite a few of their batsmen, Kings XI were not able to muster a formidable total. The Knight Riders top-order put on a display of effortless batsmanship to deliver an 8-wicket triumph and subsequently a spot at the top of the league table.
Here are five major talking points from the engrossing encounter.
#5 KKR‘s hilarious workshop on how not to field
The Knight Riders had a pretty hard time on the field. In what could be called a demonstration on how not to field, they were consistently woeful with New Zealand seamer Trent Boult getting caught in the crossfire.
After witnessing a lazy piece of fielding from Piyush Chawla in the second delivery of his spell, the left-armer saw Sunil Narine drop a straightforward catch off of a top-edge from Manan Vohra. The off-spinner was at it again in the death overs when he failed to account for the bounce and let slip a boundary.
Things soon turned to worse for Boult when he found himself watching in horror at double overthrows off his bowling. While his bowling figures read 4-0-36-0, it could have looked completely different had it not been for the hilarious fielding.
#4 Umesh Yadav‘s wicket-taking spree
Umesh Yadav returned to action following a well-deserved break in the aftermath of a long and productive home season. The format might have been different but he resumed from where he left off. Operating with sharp pace, the 29-year old reiterated his stature as a wicket-taking bowler.
The first of his four wickets was the dangerous Glenn Maxwell. His awkward line cramped the batsman for room and managed to procure the vital breakthrough. Growing in confidence, Yadav struck thrice in his final over. Although he dismissed David Miller with a full toss, his canny change in length, as well as extra pace, proved to be difficult to handle for Wriddhiman Saha and Axar Patel.
#3 Sunil Narine steps in for Chris Lynn
Although he had done it before for Melbourne Renegades, not many would have expected Sunil Narine to open the batting for Kolkata Knight Riders. With Chris Lynn’s unfortunate shoulder injury necessitating a change at the top of the order, the think tank pulled a rabbit out of the hat by anointing the mystery spinner as Gautam Gambhir’s latest opening partner.
Narine, whose lusty blows had lit up the second edition of the PSL, vindicated the surprise decision to promote him as an opener. Studded with four fours and three sixes, he smashed an 18-ball 37 to begin the chase on a belligerent note.
#2 Ishant Sharma versus Gautam Gambhir
Having listed his base price at a steep INR 2 crores, Ishant Sharma had gone unsold in the auction. Then, state-mate Gambhir had stated that the seamer’s base price was ‘too high’. However, Kings XI Punjab’s Director of Cricket Operations Virender Sehwag backed the experienced bowler and handed him a contract with his franchise earlier this month.
Playing his first game of the season, Ishant shared the new-ball with Sandeep Sharma. The interesting sub-plot was the battle between him and Gambhir. He beat the left-hander’s bat a couple of times at the beginning of his spell.
However, his erratic length saw the opener nail a square cut to the fence. The fast bowler could have had his man in the very next delivery but the outside edge evaded Maxwell’s clutches at second slip. The 28-year-old bowled only two overs in which he gave away 16 runs.
#1 Gambhir anchors another chase to perfection
With a blazing knock against Gujarat Lions, Gambhir had announced his intentions at the start of the IPL season. The skipper continued his impressive form at the home of the Knight Riders by anchoring another chase to perfection.
As he so often does, Gambhir kept the ball mostly along the ground and pierced the gaps with consummate ease. His flurry of boundaries played a major role in KKR obtaining their highest ever Power Play score. He rotated the strike deftly and ensured that the runs trickled along. Fittingly, the left-hander remained unbeaten on 72 as his team cruised to a comfortable victory.