From a seemingly hopeless position, Kolkata Knight Riders lifted themselves and managed a one-wicket victory against out-of-contention Kings Eleven Punjab in a thriller at the Eden Gardens Kolkata in the 44th match of 2015 Indian Premier League. Andre Russell played another blistering innings after KXIP spinners had KKR stuttering at 83/4 in 11th over. In a high-scoring game, KXIP batted first and mounted an extremely challenging 183. After a series of losses, the Punjab team looked for a consolation victory and nearly made it, when Gurkeerat Singh stopped KKR with his spin bowling. With openers taken out cheaply, KKR lost their batting rhythm and needed 100 runs in the last 9 overs. But middle-over revival by Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell broke KXIP’s backbone. KKR didn’t have it easy in the end after Russell fell in the 17th over and they were still some distance away but Piyush Chawala brought it closer. The scare continued with Anureet Singh taking two wickets in the 20th over and KKR’s victory came in the penultimate ball from a leg-bye!
Kings Eleven Punjab had already gone out of the play-off race and their batting didn’t have an iota of comparison with the powerful performance of IPL 2014. Still, when George Bailey won the toss, he decided to bat first with the idea of playing spoilsport to the other teams. He told the media that it would be wonderful to disrupt the plans of other teams. The batting failure of KXIP could be gauged by the fact that Bailey topped their averages with 28 after 10 games and other batsmen failed to touch the strike rate of over 150. On Saturday, however, they began well to put on 45 for the first wicket in the 6th over until a sensational Sunil Narine came along. The West Indian first hit Murali Vijay’s leg stump, when the batsman shaped for a leg-side sweep and then in the 11th over, Narine lured Manan Vohra into playing back to him and grabbed a beautiful low catch. Afterwards, Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell played forcefully to add 65 for the third wicket before Narine struck again to take out Maxwell in the 17th over. The batsman went for a pull but managed a huge top edge, which Johan Botha grabbed with glee. Three balls later in the same over, Narine took his fourth wicket to bowl out Saha in a Vijay-like dismissal. After Narine finished his spell, David Miller came up with a cameo and his 11-ball 27 took KXIP to 183/5 in 20 overs.
When KKR came out for the 184-run victory chase, they had a customary good opening with Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa notching up 31 in the 4th over. But after Uthappa fell for an 11-ball 17, scoring rate dropped as George Bailey brought Gurkeerat Singh from one end. After Maxwell removed Manish Pandey, Gurkeerat accounted for Gambhir and Surya Yadav to make it 83/4 in the 11th over. KKR still needed 101 and time was running out. Then in a flash, things began to change as Yusuf Pathan and Andre Russell found their strokes. Despite Pathan getting out for a 19-ball 29, Russell continued and carried the score to 159 in the 17th over before he fell to a sharp catch by Saha behind the stumps. Three balls later, Botha also fell at the score of 161 in the 18th over. Piyush Chawala and Brad Hogg continued from that point forward and brought KKR to within seven runs to the target in the last over, when Hogg was unfortunately run out. With Chawala lofting Anureet Singh for a six off the next ball, KKR leveled the scores even as Chawala departed. The last pair of Umesh Yadav and Sunil Narine remained with KKR requiring just one run off the last two balls. Anureet Singh’s fifth ball struck Narine on the pads and the batsmen ran a leg-bye to give KKR their fifth win at the Eden Gardens this season. The victory also took the defending champions to the top of the points’ table.
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