An all-round performance from Andre Russell helped Kolkata Knight Riders make it two wins out of two in the ongoing Indian Premier League edition by defeating Kings XI Punjab by 28 runs at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Half centuries from Nitish Rana and Robin Uthappa, and yet another blistering knock from Russell helped KKR post a massive 218/4 after KXIP skipper R Ashwin won the toss and opted to bowl first. The Punjab chase never looked on after they lost KL Rahul and Chris Gayle within the batting powerplay. A middle-order fightback helped them get close to the total but it was always an uphill task for Punjab.
Russell later took two wickets for 21 runs to help KKR restrict KXIP to 190 for 4 and emerge as the undisputed star of the match.
Russell made full use of a reprieve when he was batting on just three to hammer five sixes and three fours in his 17-ball 48 to play a major role in KKR posting a big total. Russell, who hit a sensational 19-ball 49 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, was brilliantly yorked by Mohammed Shami. But it was adjudged a no-ball as only three KXIP fielders were inside the 30-yard-circle against a mandatory minimum of four.
The Jamaican then hit top gear, smashing Andre Tye for two sixes and two fours. He then went on to hit Shami for three sixes in a row to take KKR past 200.
Ashwin found the going tough after he opted to bowl with Sunil Narine unleashing the fury early on with a nine-ball 24.
Rana struck his consecutive half century, a 34-ball 67 while number 3 Robin Uthappa was their top-scorer, remaining unbeaten on a 50-ball 67 (2x6, 6x4) to lend KKR the stability.
Off to a sedate start with 22 runs from 21 balls, Rana switched gear against Ashwin hitting the India off-spinner for two sixes and continued his assault on Mandeep Singh in the next over with successive sixes. Such was Rana’s fury that his next 41 runs came off just 13 balls as he along with Uthappa made a spectacular 110-run third wicket partnership off just 66 balls.
Having grabbed the spotlight in the Tamil Nadu Premier League en route to fetching the joint-highest bid of Rs 8.4 crore, Varun Chakravarthy found IPL a different ball game when Narine smashed the debutant for three sixes and a boundary in his first over.
But Narine’s innings (24 off nine balls) ended when South African pacer Hardus Viljoen worked up great pace and bounce to get a top-edge for his debut IPL wicket.
Russell removes Gayle
The much-anticipated contest between two big-hitting Jamaicans from the rival teams, however, ended in a damp squib with Russell winning hands down against his much senior compatriot Chris Gayle.
The Universe Boss Gayle was out in the fifth over of the KXIP run chase with a small contribution of 20 off 13 deliveries. The Punjab side were in deep trouble early on as Lokesh Rahul (1) was also out cheaply before Gayle in the second over.
It was left to Mayank Agarwal and David Miller to bring back KXIP into the game. The duo did well, raising 50 runs in 4.9 overs and stealing 19 runs from the 12th over bowled by Sunil Narine.
But soon they found the target to be too stiff and by the end of the 15th over, the asking had risen to 17.2 runs an over.
Agarwal was out in the 16th over for 53 off 34 deliveries while Miller stayed unbeaten for a 40-ball 59 not out with the help of five fours and three sixes as KXIP fell short by 28 runs in the end.
There was also some drama in store in the sixth over when the game was halted for a while with KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik and Robin Uthappa engaging in an animated discussion with the umpires after KXIP were awarded four runs from an overthrow.
It did not eventually prove costly as KKR kept things under control with the ball.