IPL 2018: KKR stay alive after dazzling Sunil Narine-Dinesh Karthik show against KXIP

Kolkata stayed alive in IPL 2018 after an easy 31-run win against Punjab at Indore on Saturday. 

IPL 2018: KKR stay alive after dazzling Sunil Narine-Dinesh Karthik show against KXIP
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Kolkata stayed alive in IPL 2018 after an easy 31-run win against Punjab at Indore on Saturday. 

Coming into the match following a 102-run thrashing at the hands of Mumbai, Kolkata needed a win to stay in the play-off hunt and their batsmen responded well to the challenge to script an important victory against Punjab, who suffered their fifth defeat in 11 games.

Chasing a massive 246 to win, Chris Gayle and Lokesh Rahul started well with a 53-run opening stand but once the dangerous West Indian was sent back, the KXIP chase, to all intents and purposes, fell apart.

Andre Russell took the first three wickets to completely push KXIP out of the contest. The hosts managed to reach 214/8 and narrow the margin of defeat but in all honesty, they were out of it long ago -- halfway through their innings.

It was KKR's sixth win in 12 games.       

Earlier, Kolkata posted IPL 2018's highest team total as their batsmen came to the party. The Dinesh Karthik-led team scored 245/6  to go past Delhi's 219/4 by a long way. 

Incidentally, Delhi had scored those runs against Kolkata in a match Shreyas Iyer came into his own with a 40-ball 93*.  

On Saturday, Kolkata had Sunil Narine (75 off 36 balls) and Karthik (50 off 23 balls) plenty to thank for the season's best total. 

While it indeed was a team effort, the maximum credit should go to Narine who at last returned to form and did just what Kolkata had retained him for ahead of IPL 2018.

There were never any doubts over his bowling prowess but Kolkata probably decided to keep him largely in light of his new-found batting talent.

He justified their decision with a match-winning fifty in the team's opener against Bangalore on April 8. However, he waned thereafter and that coincided with Kolkata's many losses in the league.

Despite starting well in the league, they found themselves in a must-win situation against Punjab. The situation demanded a special performance and Narine returned to form just at the right time. 

After hosts Punjab decided to bowl, both Kolkata openers - Chris Lynn and Narine - fired on all cylinders from the word go. Lynn even hit Barinder Sran for a gigantic six.

Things really looked ominous for Punjab at the stage. However, Purple Cap holder Andrew Tye bowled Lynn against the run of play to breathe some life into the Punjab camp. 

One expected Narine to quiet down after Lynn's wicket for 27 but the West Indian continued batting in the same vein and shortly after reached his second fifty of this season.

Narine got good support from Robin Uthappa (24) and their 75-run stand for the second wicket ensured KKR built nicely on the 53-run opening stand.

Narine hit nine fours and four sixes during the course of his innings. Uthappa and he fell to Tye in quick succession but by that time Narine had done his job and put KKR on course for a record score and easy win.

Narine also took one wicket -- that of Punjab's top-scorer Lokesh (66 off 29 balls) -- to make his outing even more memorable.