The sequence of losses might have something to do with Eden Gardens being nowhere near as full as it usually is for a Kolkata Knight Riders match, but the still-sizeable crowd was treated to a long overdue Kolkata win on Friday (April 26) over Kings XI Punjab. Playing the lead in Kolkata's successful run chase was Manvinder Bisla, who carried his bat, scoring an unbeaten 51 from 44 balls, to seal victory by six wickets after Punjab had been restricted to 149 for 6. (Read: match stats)
Jacques Kallis, who was under an injury cloud, was passed fit to play, meaning that Brendon McCullum continued to wait his turn. But while there have been question marks over Kallis's batting form, there was never any doubt about his utility with the ball, and on Friday, he was easily Kolkata's best bowler, outperforming Sunil Narine, who had a rare wicketless day. (Read: Gambhir's match reaction)
And it was Kallis who got Kolkata their first breakthrough in the seventh over when he had Mandeep Singh whipping uppishly to Eoin Morgan at midwicket to end a decent start for Punjab, who had elected to bat after winning the toss. (Watch: Farokh Engineer saying KKR won't lift title this time)
Adam Gilchrist gave himself one more game and even played out a maiden over to Sachithra Senanayeke, the second of the innings, before finally finding a few scoring shots. Mandeep was fluent too as Punjab put up 45 runs in the six powerplay overs.
Morgan was again under the ball when Gilchrist swung Rajat Bhatia to the midwicket boundary - the sort Gilchrist used to put in the middle tiers once upon a time - to leave Punjab on 67 for 2.
While there was no flourish to the Punjab batting effort, there was no noticeable dip in the scoring rate for the most part and things were steady at the seven-per-over mark.
Manan Vohra hit the first six of the innings off L Balaji before holing out to Debabrata Das at the point boundary in the same over - the 13th - while David Miller's day went along similar lines when he hit Sarabjit Ladda for a huge six but was bowled two balls later by the same bowler.
With David Hussey still in the middle though, a late surge was definitely on. But Kallis, back for his last over - the 18th of the innings - had Hussey hitting straight to Senanayeke at long on. Kallis's figures, after a first spell of 1 for 11 from three overs, ended at 2 for 14.
The promised surge almost never came, till Gurkeerat Singh Mann hit Balaji for two sixes and a four in the last over of the innings.
It seemed Kolkata were going to get lucky when, in the second over of the chase, Mandeep dropped an easy chance from Bisla at cover off Azhar Mahmood. But it was a false dawn as Mahmood, in the same over, swung the ball into Gautam Gambhir to hit timber and followed it up with one that shaped away to catch Yusuf Pathan's outside edge, which Gilchrist did well to cling on to.
Bisla, who got a chance only because of Manoj Tiwary's injury, and Kallis, however, brought things on track - Bisla hit the big ones while Kallis chipped away with the singles and a sequence of classy hits to the fence. It was 10 for 2 when the two got together, and the powerplay overs ended on 45 for 2. When the halfway stage was reached, the scoreboard read 75 for 2.
But Kallis, lucky to survive an lbw shout off Piyush Chawla earlier, threw away a great start when he guided Harmeet Singh to Gilchrist. Bisla, however, was in his stride by then, and in collaboration with Morgan, hammered away at the target, helped by Bhargav Bhatt dropping a sitter off Morgan. Morgan thanked Bhatt, and Punjab, by smashing four sixes in a 26-ball 42 that ended with Kolkata two runs away from the win, which was eventually achieved with ten balls to spare.