Impressive Kolkata sail past listless Punjab

Gautam Gambhir and Manoj Tiwary’s unbeaten 85-run stand for the third wicket ensured Kolkata’s victory over Punjab. AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Kolkata: Apr 30, 2011

Kolkata Knight Riders rushed off to an easy win over the Kings XI Punjab in the 37th game of the IPL at the Eden Gardens. This was their fifth and took them to the top of the points table in the tournament, nudging Mumbai aside on the net run-rate.

The early loss of Jacques Kallis, usually a batsman who can be depended on in situations like these, would have boosted the Kings XI Punjab confidence.

However, as a counter to that, Eoin Morgan, who has been out of form in the tournament, opened his shoulders up and slammed six boundaries in a small matter of 15 deliveries.

By the time he had been brilliantly caught by Ryan Harris off Bhargav Bhatt, the Knight Riders were away to a brilliant run-rate. And with the target only 120, the pair of Gautam Gambhir and the man of the match from the previous game, Manoj Tiwary only had to shuttle the strike around to get to the total.

Kolkata had got to 45 for two at the end of the field restrictions overs, with Tiwary opening his account with cover-drive to the boundary. There was no looking back after that even as Punja threw in all the options that they had in the mix.

Piyush Chawla s introduction did not change things too much as he went for nine in his opening over. While David Hussey, who had earlier gone for 15 at the hands of Morgan, pulled it back with four in his second and Chawla conceded another four, his misfield in the next over pushed Kolkata to 71 for two in 10 overs.

Harris sent down five wides off his next over to go with four other singles and by this time, it looked like Punjab had thrown in the towel.

They took the strategic time-out with 25 required off the last six overs and post that, the last rites were performed by Gambhir and Tiwary with utmost ease.

Gambhir slashed Valthaty to the boundary in the 15th and Tiwary launched into Chawla for a six over long-off to seal the game for the Knight Riders.

The Kings XI Punjab had a good start to their innings but fell away in the middle through accurate bowling and a strong fielding display to boot.

Going into the game with two changes to their line-up, Bhatt replacing Shalabh Srivastava and Bipul Sharma coming in for Sunny Singh, the Kings XI Punjab were off to a quick start. Captain Gilchrist looked to be in a lot of hurry as he slammed a six and three fours.

However, once Paul Valthaty, who was deprived of strike throughout the innings, was dismissed, it led to the much-expected slowing down of the rate and the fall of more wickets.

Kolkata, who had made one change to the side that defeated the Delhi Daredevils, benefitted from that one. Rajat Bhatia, who came in for Jaidev Unadkat bowled with superb control on the slow pitch and restricted the Kings XI Punjab back.

Fair to say that it was the frustration of not having been allowed to score too many runs that boiled over, resulting in the two run-outs at the top of the innings. Adam Gilchrist called Shaun Marsh for a quick run and the momentary hesitation cost the latter his wicket. Later, Abhishek Nayar fell for a duck, attempting a quick single and with Gilchrist bowled by Iqbal Abdulla, Punjab had lost four for 53.

It was Dinesh Karthik who saved Punjab the blushes with a well-compiled run-a-ball 42 but with no support at the other end, Kings managed only 119 in their 20 overs.

Brief Scores: KXIP 119 for 6 in 20 overs (Dinesh Karthik 42, Adam Gilchrist 26; Iqbal Abdulla 2 for 19, Yusuf Pathan 1 for 24) lost to KKR 120 for 2 in 17.2 overs (Gautam Gambhir 45*, Manoj Tiwary 35*; Bhargav Bhatt 2 for 20) by 8 wickets.


Man of the Match: Iqbal Abdulla

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)