Andre Russell played a scintillating 36-ball 66 to hand Kolkata their second win in IPL 8. Having set a modest target of 156, the Knight Riders were put on back foot by some impressive swing bowling from young Sandeep Sharma who took four wickets. In the end, the defending champions did manage to secure victory with 13 balls to spare. Jamaican Andre Russell who was rightly adjudged player of the match, played a crucial hand with the ball, picking up 2/39 off his four overs.
Early breakthroughs for KKR
This was the first meeting between the teams after their clash in the 2014 final. Playing away from home, Kolkata cut-short their spin bowling option, bringing in Umesh Yadav and Doeschate. Punjab meanwhile brought in Thisara Perera and Gurkeerat Singh. Having won the toss, KKR skipper Gambhir said he was hoping his new-ball bowlers would make use of the conditions early on. Yadav and Morkel did exactly that.
Murali Vijay was caught at mid-wicket off the fourth ball of the innings. Meanwhile Morne Morkel had Wriddhiman Saha caught at slips in the fourth over. Four balls later, Andre Russell ensured the end of Virender Sehwag who was playing his 100th IPL match. That left the hosts reeling at 27/3.
Bailey and Maxwell steady the ship
Glenn Maxwell and skipper George Bailey then joined hands to revive the Punjab innings. The Australian duo put together 63 off 44 for the fourth wicket. Maxwell was his usual self, powering a couple of sixes and fours each in his 25-ball 33. Gambhir brought back Yadav in the 12th over to break the partnership and he delivered, removing Maxwell.
Impressive Kolkata bowlers restrict Punjab to 155
Kolkata kept picking up wickets from the other end as Bailey was robbed of any partners in the fag end of the innings. He reached his fifty off 40 balls in the 19th over. Bailey finished with 60 to his name before being run out in the last over. In the process, he went past his fellow Australian David Warner to become the leading run scorer of IPL 8.
Sandeep Sharma rattles KKR top order
Chasing a modest 156, Kolkata’s top order was blown away by young Sandeep Sharma. He found useful movement in the air and off the track. Sandeep removed Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey in his opening spell of three overs to peg back KKR to 34/2 in the fifth over.
Kolkata vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav then joined his skipper. He threatened to take the game away from Punjab by launching two sixes off Johnson’s first over and looked at ease. However, Perera found his outside edge with a brilliant slow ball.
With the scoreboard reading 60/3 off seven, Bailey brought back Sandeep for his last over. The 21-year-old bowled a double wicket maiden to swing the match hugely in favour of the hosts.
Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan join hands for 59-ball 95
Kolkata’s last recognisable pair of Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell was left a mountain to climb. 96 was required off the last dozen overs. What put Punjab in a wrong foot was Andre Russell’s aggressive approach. Even though a wicket would have meant curtains for KKR, Russell kept playing his shots and much to Bailey’s headache, it all came off! He looked scratchy initially, missing a few but never backed off from playing positive. Yusuf at the other end played an uncharacteristic second fiddle in the partnership.
The asking rate touched 9 after the 12th over. Russell then went on an all out attack, scoring 68 off the next five overs. With none of his bowlers finding the rhythm Sandeep Sharma had, Kolkata marched home with more than two overs to spare.
Kings XI Punjab: 155/9 from 20 overs (Bailey 60, Maxwell 33, Yadav 3/33)
Kolkata Knight Riders: 159/6 from 17.5 overs (Russell 66, Yusuf 28, Sandeep 4/25)