Kolkata: Adam Gilchrist saw it and applied his cricketing brain to the fullest to snatch a narrow 2-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday.
Chasing a modest target of 135, Kolkata were restricted to 132/7 in their allotted 20 overs as an inspired effort from Punjab’s slow bowlers and fielders won them a match they had all but lost.
The Kolkata dugout looked assured of a win after they were at 73/2 at one stage but Piyush Chawla’s three wickets in two overs turned the course of the match in Punjab’s favour.
Called into bat by Gambhir, Punjab lost Gilchrist and Marsh early on within five overs. KKR’s West Indian recruit, Sunil Narine put up an excellent exhibition of slow bowling restricting the visitors from scoring freely while making crucial breakthroughs at right time. Both Gilly and Marsh became victim of Narine’s bowling. The former got out after getting a top edge while the latter was tricked into playing for the spin as the ball went past him to land on the stumps. He came back in the end to add three more wickets to his tally and at one point stood on the verge of a hat-trick. He ended with 5/19 and was almost unplayable.
Mandeep Singh (38) and David Hussey (32) then joined hands to forge a partnership of 52 runs for the third wicket that took them out of the lurking trouble. Both played sensibly without taking much risk, however, not shying away from smacking poor deliveries. Barring them none of their batsmen could make any significant contribution.
Piyush Chawla and Harmeet Singh smashed the penultimate over of Punjab’s innings for 19 runs and helped their team to a fighting total.
What Narine did for Kolkata, Piyush Chawla did in his two overs with his triple strikes and added to it the superb effort from their fielders who were all over the park defending boundaries and singles. The highlight of which was Paras Dogra’s one-handed blinder that ended Jacques Kallis innings.
In the end, KKR batsmen were partially to blame for the loss as they slowed down the scoring rate, possibly assuming that what worked for them against Rajasthan will work here as well. Debabrata Das (35) looked to turn the game around for them after the match seemed slipping from their hands but in the end the KXIP bowlers held on to their nerves snatching the victory by a narrow margin.