Chasing a modest total of 149 against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) reached the target in 18.5 overs to win their fifth consecutive match in this year’s IPL at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. Opener Mandeep Singh remained unbeaten on 66 while Chris Gayle hit a breezy 51 as KXIP emerged victorious by 8 wickets.
With this win, KXIP moved into fourth spot in the IPL table with 12 points to move a step closer to the playoffs. KKR, who also have the same points, slid down to fifth spot by virtue of a lower net run-rate.
KXIP had an opening partnership of 47 before skipper KL Rahul was dismissed for 28. He was trapped in front by a quicker one from KKR’s hero of their last match Varun Chakravarthy.
Gayle was his usual belligerent self scoring a quick-fire 51 off just 29 balls before he was dismissed by Lockie Fergusson. His innings was embellished with 2 fours and 5 sixes. Mandeep was slow to get into the groove but found his touch later on to hit 8 fours and 2 sixes.
For KKR, Chakravarthy and Fergusson were the lone wicket-takers as most of the bowlers failed to make any impression. Sunil Narine was economical giving away just 27 runs in his 4 overs. KKR’s task was made harder as they did not have enough runs on the board to play with.
Earlier, KXIP dished out a disciplined bowling show, especially at the back-end, to restrict KKR to a modest 149/9. Mohammed Shami (3/35) was the pick of the KXIP bowlers while leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (2/20) and Chris Jordan (2/25) claimed two wickets apiece to put the brakes on KKR who were invited to bat first.
After a familiar jittery start, KKR got the momentum going with opener Shubman Gill (57 off 45 balls) and skipper Eoin Morgan (40) firing on all cylinders inside the Powerplay. But KXIP's last match hero Jordan pulled things back for his team by brilliantly mixing up his slow deliveries, while Bishnoi took the prized scalp of Morgan after KKR reached 54/3 inside the Powerplay.
Morgan holed out to Murugan Ashwin at deep square leg as Bishoi ended the free-flowing partnership for 81 runs from 47 balls and from then onwards KKR struggled to get going.
Earlier, KKR had another messy start and looked in deep trouble at 10/3 inside two overs after Shami's exceptional first over. But Morgan and Gill counter-attacked beautifully, getting the boundaries and sixes. The duo made full use of the Powerplay restrictions and Shami conceded 21 runs from his third over.
Gill showed his sheer class and timing, smacking Shami for back-to-back sixes. This was after opener Nitish Rana got out for a golden duck and Shami dismissed Rahul Tripathi (7) and Dinesh Karthik (0) in the space of three balls.
With PTI inputs