Bengaluru, Oct. 26: A remarkable turnaround to the season as the Kings XI Punjab climb to the fourth spot on the table after notching a comfortable eight-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders in their Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter on Monday.
The KL Rahul-led Punjab side put up an all-round show as they beat the Knight Riders in a must-win tie at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
After languishing at the bottom of the table for half the season, the Punjab franchise completed a stunning turnaround. The Anil Kumble-coached side have now won five matches on the trot to open the season up and give themselves a real chance of making it to the playoffs.
After opting to bowl first, the Punjab bowlers put up a solid show to restrict the Knight Riders to 149/9.
With a below par total on the board, the Punjab side, led by a match-winning show from Chris Gayle and Mandeep Singh, chased down the target with seven balls to spare.
After winning the toss Rahul said that the team was comfortable chasing and the dew would play a role. And the skipper got it spot on. The Kings XI Punjab bowlers once again put up a solid show as they restricted the Kolkata side, picking up regular wickets.
Barring one strong partnership between KKR captain Eoin Morgan and opener Shubman Gill, the KKR line-up crumbled as they managed to post a below par 149.
After being put into bat, the Knights were reduced to 10/3 in two overs. Glenn Maxwell handed Punjab a good start as he removed the dangerous Nitish Rana on the second ball of the match.
The Knights initially struggled to recover from the early wicket as a lethal Mohammed Shami picked up two wickets in the very next over. Shami first removed Rahul Tripathi (7) and then picked up the wicket of former Knights captain Dinesh Karthik (0).
With the Knights reduced to 10/3 in three overs it looked like a topple was on the cards. But captain Morgan and Gill rebuilt the Kolkata innings as the duo played a blistering partnership to pile the runs on the board.
Morgan led from the front as he along with opener Gill stitched together a 81-run partnership off 47 deliveries. The pair looked lethal as Morgan scored a fiery 40 off 25 and Gill brought up his third half-century of the ongoing edition with a solid 57 off 45.
The young Ravi Bishnoi put the brakes on the duo as he removed a rampaging Morgan. Attempting to go for the maximum, the KKR skipper was picked up by M Ashwin at deep backward square leg.
Once again the ball was in Punjab’s court as they picked up regular wickets to help keep the score low.
In reply, the Punjab team effortlessly chased down the target to hand the side an important win. Openers KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh gave Punjab a steady start with an opening stand of 47 off 48. But following Rahul’s wicket, Gayle and Mandeep stitched together a 100 run partnership off 61 deliveries to take the game away from Eoin Morgan’s side.
Gayle played a blistering knock of 51 off 29, in an innings studded with five sixes and two fours. Meanwhile, Mandeep remained unbeaten on 66 off 56. It was a very special innings for the KXIP opener as he dedicated his knock to his late father who passed away a few days ago.
After the bowlers set up the game, the batsmen made it look effortless as the Punjab team clinched an important win to climb to the fourth spot on the table.
Meanwhile, the Knights fell to the fifth spot. While the Knights have twelve points from twelve matches, the Punjab team also have twelve points. But on the basis of net run rate, KL Rahul’s side is placed above Morgan’s men on the points table.