A brutal batting assault by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) halted Kings XI Punjab's (KXIP) juggernaut during their Indian Premier League clash at the iconic Eden Gardens on Thursday. The home team managed to get the 171-run target by losing just two wickets and with 21 balls to spare.
A surprise decision by KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir to open batting with spinner Sunil Narine resulted in an explosive batting display from both ends right from the word go. Naraine contributed 37 runs off just 18 balls that included three sixes.
After Naraine's wicket, Gambhir continued his batting exploits hitting boundaries all over the ground. Gambhir made 72 runs off just 49 balls hitting 11 boundaries.
Earlier in the day, KKR pacer Umesh Yadav made a successful comeback as his four wickets helped team restrict KXIP to 170/9. Yadav, who missed two matches because of a niggle following a hectic Test series against Australia, struck thrice in his fourth over to cover up for another poor display on the field.
KXIP were 95/2 after 10 overs before Umesh dismissed opposition skipper Glenn Maxwell (25 off 14) for his first wicket. The visitors once again stepped up the momentum with Wriddhiman Saha (25 off 17) and David Miller (28 off 19) putting up 57 runs in 32 balls to put their team on course for a total close to 200.
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KXIP were going comfortably at 145/4 in 17 overs when Umesh made his presence felt with a flurry of wickets to dismiss Miller and Saha, while Axar Patel (0) became his fourth victim.
Put in, Kings XI Punjab were off to a spectacular start with 10 runs from first over as Manan Vohra (28) and Hashim Amla (25) put on their second successive fifty-plus opening partnership.
Making full use of his reprieve on 17, Vohra took charge on the KKR opening pace duo of Umesh and Trent Boult. The visitors were 47 for no loss after four overs and were in no mood to relent when Piyush Chawla broke the opening stand when Vohra was bowled after failing to read one that went straight off the re-laid pitch.
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Chawla conceded just four runs in the last over of power play as KKR went on to arrest KXIP's run flow with 14 runs from three overs. The momentum temporarily shifted in favour of KKR who got a second breakthrough when Marcus Stoinis bottom-edged one to his stumps off Narine.
(With inputs from PTI, more details awaited)