Abu Dhabi: Sandeep Sharma scalped three crucial wickets as Kings XI Punjab produced a disciplined bowling display to compensate for their batting failure and notch up a comfortable 23-run victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL match here on Saturday.
Asked to take first strike, Punjab were strangled by spinners Sunil Narine (3 for 24) and Piyush Chawla (3 for 19), who outfoxed the Kings XI batsmen with their web of spin to restrict them to 131 for nine in their stipulated 20 overs.
However, table-toppers Punjab came up with a superb bowling effort to dismiss Kolkata for 109 with 10 balls to spare at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium and continue their invincible run in the tournament.
Pacer Sandeep Sharma (3/21) and spinner Akshar Patel (16), while Mitchel Johnson (2/22), Lakshmipathy Balaji (1/21) and Rishi Dhawan (1/24) -- all got wickets as Punjab registered their fourth win as many matches.
Suryakumar Yadav was the top-scorer for Kolkata as he blasted three fours and one six in his 17-ball 34-run innings down the order but it was not enough in the end. Defending 133, Punjab pace trioka of Sharma, Johnson and Balaji ripped through the top order to reduce Kolkata to 31-3 in 8 overs.
While Sandeep drew first blood, trapping Manish Pandey infront of wicket in his second over, the Punjab pacer came back to dismiss skipper Gautam Gambhir in his third over. Balaji also joined the party, picking up Jacques Kallis on his first delivery in the sixth over. Chris Lynn (13) and Robin Uthappa (19) tried to steady the ship but Patel and Dhawan kept a tight line as Kolkata huffed and puffed to 50 in 11 overs.
The mounting pressure took a toll on Lynn, who looking for a big shot ended up losing his stumps off a quick and flat delivery by Patel in the 12th over. Newman Yusuf Pathan also continued to struggle with his form and was sent back to the hut by Dhawan when he tried to play across the line and was adjudged leg before, while a direct throw from Bailey ended Uthappa`s stay in the middle.
Chawla (0) and Narine (6) too failed to provide any resistance. Young Yadav tried to lead a fightback but Sandeep came back to dismiss the batsman on the third ball of his last over to end any hope of a turnaround.
Earlier, put into bat, Punjab lost Cheteshwar Pujara (8) early in the second over when Pandey`s direct throw from point found the opener short. Coming into bat at number three, Wicket-keeper batsman Wriddhiman Saha (14) got a life early when a running Umesh Yadav spilled his catch but the Kolkata cricketer failed to make use of the chance.
After a four and six, he was sent back into the pavilion by experienced Jacques Kallis, who trapped him infront of wicket on his first delivery. Glenn Maxwell then came into the crease much to the anticipation of his fans and the Australian obliged them with a reverse sweep off Sunil Narine for a boundary which also brought up the fifty for Punjab in 5.5 overs.
But then the 25-year-old decided to throw away his wicket when he went for an over-ambitious shot on the leg side only to see his leg-stump go for a walk. David Miller then joined Sehwag but the South African`s 10-ball 14-run innings, which was studded with back-to-back fours off Kallis, was cut short by leg-spinner Chawla in the 10th over.
Brought in the team in place of R Vinay Kumar, Chawla bamboozled Miller with a googly which the batsman failed to read and his slog ended up at the hands of Albie Morkel at long-on. Skipper George Bailey then joined hands with Sehwag as the duo slammed a boundary each off Yadav in the 11th over. The Delhi dasher then cut one at the point area off Chawla for another four.
However, Chawla came back to remove both the batsmen -- Bailey and Sehwag -- in the 14th over. First, the Uttar Pradesh bowler dismissed Bailey (11) when he had him caught at the boundary line by Morkel. While one ball later, Sehwag (37) failed to read another googly from Chawla and was clean bowled.
Narine then mopped up the tail, picking up three wickets -- Akshar Patel (9), Mitchell Johnson (0) and Lakhsmipathy Balaji (0) -- in the first four balls of the 19th over as Punjab finished with a modest total on board.