Knights humble Punjab by six wickets, end losing streak

Kolkata, April 26 (IANS) A masterly unbeaten 51 by Manvinder Bisla piloted holders Kolkata Knight Riders to a six-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab in their crucial Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens here Friday.

The Knights scored the required 150 runs with nine balls to spare, ending in the process a three-match losing streak. Earlier, the visitors had posted a decent 149/6.

Bisla's knock (44b 3x4 3x6) was a happy reminder for the sparse but boisterous home crowd of his match winning 89 of 48 deliveries in the final of the previous edition at chennai which enabled the Knights to lay hands on their maiden IPL crown.

Eoin Morgan (42, 26b 3x4 4x6) and Jacques Kallis (37, 33b 6x4) were the other major contributor for the hosts. The Kings' Azhar Mahmood (3/35) was the most successful bowler.

Kolkata started off on a disastrous note losing both the openers Yusuf Pathan (0) and skipper Gautam Gambhir (8; 6b 2x4) of successive balls by Azhar Mahmood as early as the second over.

However, explosive batsman Bisla, replacing an injured Manoj Tiwary and batting pivot Jacques Kallis did not let the twin blows affect them. The duo hit some lusty blows and prevented the prowling Punjab bowlers from striking again.

They put on 66 runs in just under nine overs to put the Knights' chase back on track. However, Kallis (37, 33b 6x4) departed in the 11th over when he edged an away swinger of Harmeet Singh behind the wicket..

Walked in man in form Morgan, who lost no time to go on full flow, as he and Bisla put to the sword the Punjab bowlers, much to the delight of the spectators.

The two hit some lusty blows to keep the asking rate under control as the visiting bowlers failed to make any impact. Both the batsmen hit a couple of sixes each as the Knights required just 32 runs in the final five overs.

Bisla and Morgan kept their cool, collecting 51 runs of just 32 balls as the Knights tightened their grip in the match.

Earlier, opting to bat first the Kings managed to score 149/6 after the Knight bowlers led by Kallis came up with a disciplined show. The Punjab middle order failed to capitalise on a solid opening partnership of 45 runs.

But for a late unbeaten cameo by Gurkeerat Singh, the visitors would have fallen much short of their eventual total.

Singh scored a15-ball 28 studded with two fours and the sme number of sixes. He blasted 17 of the last over bowled by Laxmipathy Balaji.

Mannan Vohra (31; 21b 3x4 1x6) top scored for the Kings, while allrounder Jacques Kallis returned enviable figures (2/14) with the ball for the Knights.

Opener Mandeep Singh (25, 20b 5x4), skipper Adam Gilchrist (27, 27b 4x4) and David Hussey (21, 20b 1x4) were the other major contributors for the Punjab team.

Tweaker Sunil Narine, who troubled the batsmen throughout, remained wicketless giving just 22 runs of his four overs.

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