Kings XI Punjab stood tall at the end of a see-saw encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Tuesday (April 16), winning by four runs. On a day when Sunil Narine claimed the first hat-trick of this edition of the Pepsi Indian Premier League, Punjab put in some excellent overs at the death to survive despite Gautam Gambhir's solid half-century, making Manpreet Gony's late, ballistic 42 the difference on the day. (Pics)
Put in to bat, Punjab started and finished well, but a middle order collapse threatened to disrupt their innings. Mandeep Singh looked in good nick, picking his shots with gusto, evident through his consecutive boundaries off L Balaji. He put up 37 for the second wicket with Manan Vohra, after Gilchrist (7) was trapped leg-before by Sachitra Senanayake early on. They had taken the total to 61 when both fell in quick succession in similar fashion. Both were deceived by short-pitched deliveries, and while Vohra fell to Balaji, Mandeep was caught behind off Jacques Kallis. (Stats)
Punjab were in quite some trouble when Narine dealt them what seemed a knockout blow with his hat-trick. He got one to turn and bounce sharply and David Hussey was caught behind. The spin then deceived Azhar Mahmood as well, as he tried to play to leg but sent it straight back to Narine. Soon after, Narine got one to land in the middle, turn sharply once more and clip Gurkeerat Singh's off-stump. Read: Loss vs Kings XI very deflating for KKR: Gambhir
The innings looked done and dusted, but Gony had other plans. With a strike-rate of 233.34, and three sixes to his name, all coming over the long-on-midwicket region, he singlehandedly lifted Punjab, even taking 23 runs of a Narine over. He eventually fell to Kallis, but his knock had given Punjab something to defend. (Watch analysis)
A wicket in the first ball of the innings has been something of a trend in the IPL so far, and it was the case when the Kolkata innings got under way as Manvinder Bisla edged Praveen Kumar to Gilchrist. Kallis, the new man, didn't last long either, when he tried to slap Mahmood through the covers but was caught splendidly by Mandeep.
However, on came Gautam Gambhir and Eoin Morgan and Punjab were pushed to side-lines. Taking charge, Gambhir made an enterprising 60 off just 39 balls, scoring both sides of the wicket. On one occasion, there were three consecutive boundaries off Hussey, as Gambhir found the gaps with ease. At the other end, Morgan played a more restrained knock. The two put up an important 105 for the third wicket, and it proved the bedrock of their chase. By the time Gambhir departed, edging Gony to the keeper, Kolkata needed a seemingly comfortable 52 off 41 balls.
Gambhir's dismissal led to a batting collapse though and the tables turned. Morgan, with 47 to his name, was Mahmood's second wicket while Manoj Tiwary disappointed, falling to Parvinder Awana with just a run to his name. The runs dried up as well, and suddenly, it was Punjab's game to lose. The balance visibly shifted, as Debabrata Das became Mahmood's third victim.
With 30 needed in two overs, Rajat Bhatia reduced the required rate with two sixes off Awana, but fell soon after. The wickets of Yusuf Pathan and Senanayake in the final over all but sealed the result as Kolkata fell short by 4 runs and ended on 153 for 9.