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Knights over Kings

The Kings XI Punjab made some frantic changes to nail the elusive victory. They made Yuvraj Singh to open, drafted in Brett Lee and dropped S Sreesanth. Unfortunately, they couldn't change what they were obviously desperate to change --- the outcome of the contest, reports Subhash Rajta.

cricket Updated: Mar 28, 2010 00:15 IST
Subhash Rajta

The Kings XI Punjab made some frantic changes to nail the elusive victory on Saturday. They made Yuvraj Singh to open, drafted in Brett Lee and dropped S Sreesanth. Unfortunately, they couldn't change what they were obviously desperate to change --- the outcome of the contest.

In what is their fifth loss in the sixth game they have played so far, they went down rather meekly to the Kolkata Knight Riders by 39 runs.

And if the loss, which will fix them to the bottom of the table even more firmly, wasn't bad enough, the fact that they again seem to have breached the overrate and are possibly in for more astronomical financial penalties will make the loss even harder to digest.

What's going to hurt them the most and hit their self-belief is that they were completely outplayed, and that, too, by a side that itself was struggling to get its act together after hurtling to three straight loses. Set to chase 183, they were never in contention, always fighting a lost battle.

Once Shane Bond pushed them on the back foot by removing Ravi Bopara in the very first over, they never recovered and appeared going through the motions.

Yuvraj, who came out to open on Saturday, had to play a big knock if Kings XI were to make a match of it. The left-hander had just started looking good when a splendid catch by Manoj Tiwary cut short his innings.

Thereafter, the Knight Riders bowlers took complete control of the proceedings and didn't allow any batsman to settle down and raise the tempo. The discipline made the runs extremely difficult to come by and eventually choked the chase much earlier than the target.

Earlier, the KKR batting had a fine start and a great finish. In between, though, they left much to be desired.

They were off to a flier with the Kings XI leaking 27 runs off the first two overs. A superb catch of Chris Gayle in the deep square leg by Manvinder Bisla halted the Knight Riders' charge, and gradually the innings lost the initial momentum. Sourav Ganguly (50) and Manoj Tiwary (75), though, did hit half-centuries and stitched together a 79-run partnership for the third wicket, but it didn't seem to have the kind of impact it should have had on the innings. They allowed far too many overs to slip away without conceding much in the course of their partnership, and they were just 126 for 3 at the end of the 15th over.

At that stage, they desperately needed someone to play a blinder in the last five overs to get them to a fighting total. They appeared to have lost the plot until Manoj Tiwary smashed 21 runs off the last over.