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MOHALI: Served by a unlikely act, Kings XI Punjab survived the first hat-trick of IPL-13 to defeat star-studded Kolkata Knight Riders by four runs on Tuesday, putting their sagging campaign back on track.
The Kings posted a competitive 157, thanks to Manpreet Gony's 18-ball 42 and despite Sunil Narine’s three-in-three act, and then disrupted what had until then appeared to be a smooth chase for Kolkata. Gony, declared Man of the Match, was once again was the responsible party as he claimed the well-set Gautam Gambhir (60), triggering Kolkata's slide to defeat.
In pursuit, Gambhir’s team had themselves come back after losing two early wickets – of Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis – as the skipper and Eoin Morgan (47) collaborated for a pacy 105.
The two brought KKR to the brink of victory, but both were dismissed within 10 runs of each other as Kolkata went into a Gony-engineered freefall.
The hefty medium-pacer, who blasted 42 in Punjab’s innings, had the well-set Gambhir caught behind in an over that leaked just one. Morgan then got a leading edge against Azhar Mahmood, who was followed by a charging Manoj Tiwary being clean bowled on a Parvinder Awana short ball.
The requirement was 30 in the last two overs. Rajat Bhatia smashed a couple of sixes off Awana, but was bowled on the last ball of the 19th. Praveen Kumar defended the 11 needed in the last over, the result obvious when Yusuf Pathan, the last recognized batsman, struck a low full toss straight to the lone man posted on the leg-side boundary.
Although Praveen contrived to make is more of a contest with a couple of wides, Punjab held their nerve to register a four-run win.
The hosts were were earlier rocked by this edition’s first hat-trick. The West Indian Narine removed David Hussey, Azhar Mahmood and Gurkeerat Singh in as many balls in the 15th over severely jolting Punjab who were then looking to make the last five count.
Narine’s star turn pulled Punjab down to 99/6 with 30 balls remaining. That the home team reached 157 had a lot to do with Manpreet Gony. The burly all-rounder smashed an 18-ball 42 that contained three sixes, two of them soiling Narine’s clean figures in his last over – the 19th of the innings – that went for 23.
Gambhir’s decision to field had earlier met with immediate success when counterpart Adam Gilchrist continued his woeful run. The Australian legend struggled for 12 balls before he was trapped by a Sachithra Senanayake carom ball.
Opener Mandeep Singh was fluent as he accrued a string of boundaries, dismissing L. Balaji and Jacques Kallis through the leg-side, his preferred stroking region. But Mandeep and Mana Vohra were out in quick succession, a turn of events that brought together Punjab prized imports: the Davids – Hussey and Miller – at the business end of the first essay.
Narine destroyed home hopes of a big score in three deliveries. Hussey was done in by bounce and caught behind; Azhar Mahmood lobbed a return catch off the leading edge; Gurkeerat was deceived by the carom ball, much to his stumps’ dismay.
Gony’s cameo brought Punjab in the vicinity of a fighting score and two early wickets during Kolkata’s chase put them firmly in the driver’s seat. Gambhir, however, played a captain’s knock and won Kolkata the game, with a little help, of course, from Morgan.