Kings XI Punjab put in a disciplined bowling performance to defend a modest score © IANS (File Photo)
Kings XI Punjab put in a disciplined bowling performance to defend a modest score © IANS (File Photo)


By Nishad Pai Vaidya


Apr 26, 2014


Kings XI Punjab proved yet again that they are the team to beat at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 as they trounced the Kolkata Knight Riders by 23 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi. It wasn’t Glenn Maxwell who lit up the arena this time, but a combined effort by the bowlers ensured that a modest total of 132 wasn’t breached. Punjab remain unbeaten in the IPL with four victories and sit pretty at the top of the table.


On a surface where the Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowled out for 70 earlier in the day, Gautam Gambhir won the toss and chose to bowl. Assessing the conditions, Kolkata brought in Piyush Chawla, the leg-spinner, in place of R Vinay Kumar, the man who bowled the fantastic last over against Bangalore. It made sense given Pravin Tambe’s good spell in the afternoon.


This move did work wonders for Kolkata as Chawla broke the back of Punjab batting. But, one mustn’t forget the spell bowled by Morne Morkel early on. He was making the ball talk with that intimidating bounce, unsettling even someone as solid as Cheteshwar Pujara. Wriddhiman Saha did get stuck into him when he smashed a six and a four over square-leg. But, he had welcomed him with some chin music.


Maxwell and Virender Sehwag were together and when they attacked Sunil Narine to finish the powerplay at 51 for two, things looked good for Punjab. Gambhir then summoned Morkel again to get rid of Maxwell and he responded to his captain’s calls. Maxwell walked past the stumps and Morkel got through with yorker that shattered the stumps. That was when Punjab started losing the plot although they maintained a good scoring rate.


Chawla unleashed some magic in this innings with some good variations. Bowling against his old side, Chawla bowled a mixture of wrong-uns, the straighter ones, and of course the conventional leg-spinners. In the middle overs, he broke the back of the Punjab batting with a spell of three for 19 in his four overs. David Miller was out trying to heave towards mid-wicket, George Bailey tried to clear the the boundaries behind the bowler, but was caught and Sehwag was bowled for 37 with a beautiful wrong-up.


It was a fantastic spell as Chawla bowled 10 dot balls to break Punjab’s momentum, who looked to attack at every stage. Some may have expected such a spell by Narine as Chawla is labeled as an expensive bowler. However, given the opportunity, he highlighted his ability. Narine did have his share of the pie when he snared three wickets in the penultimate over to end Punjab’s hopes of reaching 150.


Kolkata were regularly dented by wickets during their run-chase courtesy some good bowling. Sandeep Sharma started things off by dismissing Manish Pandey leg-before in the third over. Gambhir came on at the back of three blobs. He did have a few nervous moments as the first ball nearly lobbed back to the bowler. Gambhir did get off the mark off his fourth delivery amidst huge cheers. However, he got carried away in the rush when he charged to Sandeep in the fifth over and hit him straight to mid-off.


At no point did Kolkata look comfortable as Punjab kept pegging them back with wickets. Lakshmipathy Balaji was introduced in the sixth over and he picked a wicket first ball as Jacques Kallis hit one straight to point. Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn had a small partnership of 30 that took Kolkata past fifty. However, after the half-way stage, the wheels came off. Lynn was dismissed while trying to attempt a slog off Akshar Patel. Yusuf Pathan went cheaply when he was dismissed leg before by Rishi Dhawan and Robin Uthappa was run-out. All this happened in the space of two overs and Kolkata never recovered.


Towards the death, Suryakumar Yadav was the lone fighter in the ruins. Some of the shots he played were amazing. He fearlessly flicked across the line and also tried the sweeps off the medium-pacers. However, it was too much for the young man and he was dismissed for a quickfire 34 off 17 balls. Sandeep was the start for Punjab with figures of three for 21.  Mitchell Johnson then finished things off in the penultimate over by bowling Umesh Yadav.


Punjab have only gone on to how their supremacy in this tournament. Until now, it was their batting that did all the talking, but Bailey would be happy with the bowling doing well. With this performance, they have show that they are not a one-dimensional team.


Brief scores:


Kings XI Punjab 132 for 9 in 20 overs (Virender Sehwag 37; Piyush Chawla 3 for 19, Sunil Narine 3 for 24) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 109 in 18.2 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 34; Sandeep Sharma 3 for 21, Mitchell Johnson 2 for 22, Akshar Patel 2 for 16) by 23 runs.


Man of Match: Sandeep Sharma.


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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)