Kings XI Punjab rallied from a seemingly losing scenario to defeat the Kolkata Knight Riders by two runs in a nail-biting Indian Premier League game that swayed from one way to the other at Eden Gardens here yesterday. Off-spinner Sunil Narine’s splendid effort (5-19) went in vain, as the hosts, cruising at 73-2 in the 12th over in reply to Punjab’s 134-9, lost four wickets in quick succession, before local man Debabrata Das (35 not out) played a rollicking knock to bring his side within sniffing distance of victory. With the 18th over gone, KKR needed only 13 from the last two.
But seasoned campaigner Praveen Kumar conceded only four runs in the penultimate over, and the Knights needed nine from the last. Punjab medium pacer Harmeet Singh, bowling the final over, struck a lethal blow by getting rid of Ryan ten Doeschate to stop the home team at 132-7. KKR started off on a steady note but lost openers Jacques Kallis (1) and Gautam Gambhir (22). Only when it looked KKR would run away with the match easily, spinners Piyush Chawla(3-18) and Bhargav Bhatt (2-24) snapped up three quick wickets between them including the scalp of Yusuf Pathan (0) to bring the game alive.
Earlier, with a spinner friendly pitch and Narine on the prowl, Punjab laboured to 134-9. Adam Gilchrist (5) continued to disappoint as he top-edged a Narine delivery with just 16 on the board. He has managed just 59 runs in four outings this season. Narine struck gold in his second over castling Shaun Marsh(1).
Reeling at 21-2, David Hussey (32) joined opener Mandeep Singh (38) adding 52 runs in 46 balls. However, the duo departed quickly. Narine continued to bamboozle Punjab’s batsmen, snaring Bipul Sharma and Praveen in successive balls and later Harmeet (14) who denied him a hat trick, in his fourth over.
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