Gautam Gambhir is Kolkata's Knight in shining armour
Kolkata restricted Punjab to a modest 124, before Gautam Gambhir scored an unbeaten 66 to guide his team to an 8-wicket win.
Kolkata Knight Riders put up a clinical performance to beat Kings XI Punjab comfortably by eight wickets in an Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.
Riding on a disciplined bowling and fielding display, KKR first restricted Kings XI to 124 for seven after sent into bowl, and then skipper Gautam Gambhir led from the front with a fine unbeaten half century to overwhelm the target with 21 balls in hand.
Gambhir scored an unbeaten 66 off 44 balls with the help of seven fours and a six to hold the chase together and see his side home.
Gambhir was ably supported by Jacques Kallis, who scored an unbetaen 30 off 23 balls. The duo stitched unconquered 53 runs for the third-wicket as KKR scored 127 for two in 16.3 overs.
Earlier, Kings XI batsmen lost wickets at regular intervals to be restricted to the modest total after opting to bat at the PCA stadium.
Captain Adam Gilchrist, who retired hurt in the sixth over with a right hamstring problem only to return later to drag his side out of trouble, top-scored with an unbeaten 40, while Shaun Marsh made a 30-ball 33 with the help of four boundaries.
Kings XI batsmen struggled from the onset against a determined KKR bowling line up and it could be gauged from the fact that only three of their batters could manage double figures.
Wily West Indian off-spinner Sunil Narine (2/24) and Brett Lee (2/26) starred with the ball for KKR, sharing four wickets between them. Laxmipathy Balaji (1/20) and Rajat Bhatia (1/23) also picked up a wicket each for the visitors.
KKR’s started their run chase on a blistering pace, racing on to their fifty inside the sixth over.
Brendon McCullum (15) was the initial aggressor as he clobbered Praveen Kumar for two boundaries in the first over.
KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir matched his partner stroke by stroke and welcomed Harmeet Singh with a huge six over mid-wicket and a four in the bowler’s opening over.
After the initial burst, McCullum found boundaries hard to come by, which finally led to his dismissal. Struggling to score freely, the Kiwi hit a Piysuh Chawla’s (2/19) short, way down the leg side delivery straight to Dimitri Mascarenhas at short fine-leg, but not before stitching a 53-run opening stand with Gambhir.
Chawla picked up his second wicket four overs later when Manvinder Bisla (11) dragged a delivery on to his stumps.
Gambhir, on the other hand, played a calm and composed innings and notched up his half century in just 36 balls.
In Kallis, Gambhir found a perfect partner as they duo went about their business in style.
Kallis struck little-kwown Bhargav Bhatt for back-to-back four and a six to finish off the run chase in emphatic fashion.
Earlier, Kings XI’s last year’s hero, Paul Valthaty once again disappointed as he fell early, outside edging a Lee delivery to Bisla behind the stumps in the third over.
To make matters worse for Kings XI, Gilchrist had to retired hurt in the sixth over.
Kings XI failed to get a substantial partnership as Mandeep Singh (6), Marsh, David Hussey (10), Paras Dogra (6) and Mascarenhas (9) all departed in quick intervals.
Marsh’s dismissal in the 14th over, however, turned out to be a little controversial.
The left-hander underedged an attempted cut off a Lee delivery which just seemed to have carried to Bisla behind the wicket. But the batsmen was not satisfied and walked away only after checking with the keeper.
The dismissal also brought Kings XI owner Preity Zinta on to the ground as she was not satisfied with the decision. She, however, left the field only after Gilchrist intevened.
Towards the end, Gilchrist and Chawla (9) tried their level best to shoot up the run rate but failed.
Kings XI Punjab: 124 for seven in 20 overs (Adam Gilchrist 40 not out, Shaun Marsh 33; Sunil Narine 2/24, Brett Lee 2/26).
Kolkata Knight Riders: 127 for eight in 16.3 overs (Gautam Gambhir 66 not out, Jacques Kallis 30 not out; Piyush Chawla 2/19).