Kolkata, May 4 (IANS) Andre Russell came up with a magical last over to help Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) grab a seven-run victory over Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.
The victory also propelled the hosts to the top of the table with 12 points from 9 games. Russell ended with figures of 4-20 from his four over as Glenn Maxwell’s scintillating 42-ball 68 went in vain.
Chasing KKR’s 165/3, the visitors got off to a disastrous start with Marcus Stoinis (0) heading back in the fourth ball of the very first over. The Australian tried to lift the Andre Russell delivery but was only able to chip it till Piyush Chawla at mid off.
Kings XI were dented further as Manan Vohra (0) and captain Murali Vijay (6) departed in quick succession with the score reading 13/3.
Australian Glenn Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha then got together to pull off a rescue act. They were helped by some wayward bowling from KKR and after the first six overs Kings XI had put on 37/3.
The Saha-Maxwell partnership yielded 40 runs but then the Kings XI wicket-keeper dragged a Chawla googly onto his stumps.
With David Miller by his side, Maxwell carried on piercing the gaps and hitting the big sixes. He tonked his countryman Brad Hogg 17 runs in the 12th over. Gambhir suddenly looked worried with the flurry of boundaries and might have been thinking if they had missed a trick by leaving their star spinner Sunil Narine out.
Even KKR co-owner Shahrukh Khan looked worried and was seen having an intense chat with former India captain and Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president Sourav Ganguly.
Maxwell ensured the rivals remained worried for a little longer as he kept smacking the long ball.
Finally, he was out leg-before-wicket in the 16th over trying to reverse sweep Chawla. Miller also was holed out in the deep soon after.
But Axar Patel’s two consecutive sixes in the 18th over ensured his side were in touching distance of the total.
However, the game turned on its head thereafter as Morne Morkel gave away just 10 runs off the penultimate over.
With 12 needed of the last six balls, the Kings crumbled under pressure and ended up with 157/9.
Earlier in the evening, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa’s terrific 101-run stand helped Kolkata get to a fighting total.
Uthappa top-scored with 70, while Gambhir contributed 54 runs to the total. None of the Kings XI bowlers were able to take a wicket as all three scalps were run-outs.
The Knights skipper looked fluent from the outset on a strip that was assisting the bowlers and took on the likes of Mohit Sharma and Marcus Stoinis smashing them to the ropes. At the end of the powerplay, the home side had managed to get to 40-0.
Uthappa then stepped on the gas and tried hitting the long ball.
He succeeded finally in lofting Axar Patel for a straight six in the 9th over. Gambhir too joined in by clubbing a Swapnil Singh full-toss into the stands.
Thereafter, it was all about picking the singles and running hard for the twos. The duo also hit the occasional boundaries as the 100 came up in the last delivery of the 12th over.
However, a little later Gambhir, who had just completed his half-ton, was run out as he misjudged a single. Maxwell who was fielding at cover threw the stumps down with a direct throw.
Uthappa was about to follow his captain into the dug out but he was dropped at 50 by Mohit at long on after an indecision with team-mate David Miller.
Yusuf Pathan and Uthappa carried the innings forward and both struck two huge blows, but then the latter fell short of his crease trying to pinch a run.
Andre Russell and Pathan struggled to find the ropes in the last few overs and the Knights had to remain content with 164-3.
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR): 164/3 (Robin Uthappa 70, Gautam Gambhir 54) vs Kings XI Punjab: 157/9 (Glenn Maxwell 68; Andre Russell 4-20)
(Debdoot Das can be contacted at email@example.com)