Himanshu Shekhar/ Zeecric.com
PCA Stadium, Chandigarh: Chasing a challenging total of 184 runs for victory, Kings XI Punjab never really got off to a start and lost by 39 runs and were staring down in the IPL points table.
On the other hand, for Kolkata Knight Riders, the win comes at the much needed time as another defeat could well have meant the end of road for Sourav Ganguly’s riders. Riders have now jumped on to the fifth spot in the points table and one more win might well place them in great position for semi-final spot in the third edition of the cash awash league. At least Shah Rukh Khan would be hoping so.
Put to chase by KKR, Kings XI Punjab took a big a gamble by sending in Yuvraj Singh to open the account. The move never really brought fruits as Sangakkara’s misery continued after the top order failed again to provide any impetus.
With Yuvraj (24), Manvinder Bisla (22) and Ravi Bopara (0) gone in the 8th over at the team aggregate of 54 runs all eyes were up to Kumara Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
But misfortune struck for Kings XI as captain Sangakkara was stumped by Riders wicket-keeper in most bizarre of the fashion.
Going for the reverse pull on a Chris Gayle delivery, Sangakkara failed to connect, lost his balance and fell down in further embarrassment for himself and also to the disappointment of home crowd.
Jayawardene on the other hand failed to up the tempo and was clean bowled by team mate Angelo Mathews in the process. The result of the match being a foregone conclusion in favour of KKR, Irfan Pathan came to the crease.
Pathan, who has visibly been the most consisitent performer for Kings with the bat, did show some good hits but with required run rate going way beyond the manageable proportions, Sourav Ganguly kept his composure and emerged victorious in the end.
Kings XI were finally restricted to 144/6 in twenty overs.
Importantly for Kolkata fans, Shane Bond and Ajit Agarkar returned to some kind of form ahead of some big IPL encounters.
Just when, the Kolkata Knight Riders needed one man to stand and anchor the ship, it was no one other than Sourav Ganguly. Sourav Ganguly, the captain and Manoj Tiwary led by front to craft twin useful half-centuries as Kolkata Knight Riders piled up a competitive 183/5 against Kings XI Punjab their IPL encounter.
Manoj Tiwary in particular played an special innings of 75 runs which came from just 47 balls and helped Knights build on an innings from where they looked all set to give some grueling times to the home side Punjab.
Ganguly on the other hand was patience personified especially after Chris Gayle’s departure early on in the innings. His forty balls stay at the crease meant that SRK’s team once looked all set to get past the magical 200 run mark but that did not happen.
A slower, short length delivery from Irfan Pathan, was miscued by Sourav Ganguly, who went for a big heave only to see the ball landing from the skies into the hands of Piyush Chawla. Ganguly’s untimely departure did put the mini break on KKR’s scoring rate, but Manoj Tiwary had different plans.
Earlier, Gayle took Knight Riders off to a scintillating start as he welcomed Brett Lee with 19 runs of his very first over.
For Kings rescue, came Shalabh Srivastava as he put the brakes on the score, by getting rid of Chris Gayle, courtesy a brilliant running catch by Manvinder Bisla in the deep.
Both the teams made significant changes with Whatmore getting in David Hussey and Ajit Agarkar in the team and giving Manoj Tiwary a place, replacing Chetweshwar Pujara.
Left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla takes the spot vacated by Harpreet Singh, while Murali Kartik and Ishant Sharma have been left out.
For Kings XI Punjab, Australian speedstar Brett Lee plays his first game of IPL III, while Juan Theron will miss out, because of a tight hamstring.
Sreesanth and Kaif were also rested by Tom Moody, giving Vikramjeet Malik and Karan Goel a chance to play.
Kolkata Knight Riders (Playing XI): Sourav Ganguly(c), Chris Gayle, Manoj Tiwary, David Hussey, Mandeep Singh, Angelo Mathews, Wriddhiman Saha(w), Ajit Agarkar, Shane Bond, Ashok Dinda, Iqbal Abdulla
Kings XI Punjab (Playing XI): Kumar Sangakkara(w/c), Ravi Bopara, Manvinder Bisla, Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene, Irfan Pathan, Karan Goel, Piyush Chawla, Shalabh Srivastava, Brett Lee, Vikramjeet Malik