From the high of winning against Rising Pune Supergiants, it took just two days for Kings XI Punjab to come crashing down against Kolkata Knight Riders as they suffered a six-wicket defeat against the former champions.
Up against disciplined KKR, nothing worked for Kings XI, underlining their lack of consistency. A target of 138, after Kolkata bowlers choked Punjab for runs, was never going to challenge KKR, a side full of proven match winners.
Robin, Gambhir double act
Openers Robin Uthappa and skipper Gautam Gambhir once again ensured a rousing start. Boundaries flowed with ease, an area where Kings XI had come up short. The two KKR batsmen added 82 runs in eight overs. Uthappa started by hammering Punjab’s best bowler, pacer Sandeep Sharma, for four off the first ball. He hit two more boundaries in Sandeep’s second over and later hit Mohit Sharma for two fours, racing to third fastest fifty of the season in just 24 balls. Gambhir at the other end was happy to play second fiddle.
It’s acknowledged that KKR boast of one of the best bowling attacks in the league. Morne Morkel and Umesh Yadav open the attack followed by Shakib Al Hasan with Caribbean spinner Sunil Narine also back. The KKR bowlers had such control that Kings XI batsmen scored only 10 fours and two maximums in the innings. The failure to hit big shots was compounded by unnecessary risks.
Among the ruins, only Shaun Marsh was resolute. Take out his half-century, which came under pressure as he at one point looked like running out of partners, and Kings XI put up a dismal show. On a green track, Gambhir rotated his bowlers, using as many as seven. It just showed the bowling options the two-time champions boast of.
For Kings XI, openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra added 21 runs in four overs. But after that, KKR bowlers tightened the screws and the Punjab batting unravelled. Vohra found Shakib at midwicket trying to flick Morkel and Vijay was cleaned up by leg spinnner Piyush Chawla.
Yusuf Pathan dismissed skipper David Miller and Narine, introduced in the seventh over, removed Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell cheaply to reduce the hosts to 94/5. Marsh and Kyle Abbott used the long handle to take 18 runs off the last over bowled by Andre Russell to give some respectability to the total. In the end, it proved the runs were too few.