Pune: Before Sunday, Kolkata Knight Riders had won three games out of three while bowling first. On Sunday, they chased again, won again, and went top of the table in a tournament where chasing teams had won 17 out of 20 matches. Chasing 161, they were coasting at 111 for 3 before they slumped dramatically, losing five wickets in 30 balls, and only sealed victory when Umesh Yadav struck a meaty straight six with five runs needed off the last four balls.
Knight Riders’ slump began in the 15th over, when Rajat Bhatia’s stump-to-stump line, and Yusuf Pathan’s across-the-line response, ended a 51-run stand for the fourth wicket with Suryakumar Yadav. That partnership, coming on the back of Suryakumar’s stands of 31 and 29 with Gautam Gambhir and Shakib Al Hasan, had taken Knight Riders to a position where they needed 50 off the last 34 balls, with six wickets in hand.
But when M Ashwin struck in the very next over, defeating Suryakumar with a ripping googly, and particularly when Andre Russell – who struck two big sixes off Ankit Sharma in the 17th over – holed out to a slower ball from Thisara Perera, a one-sided contest turned into a thriller. Knight Riders kept in touch with the required rate with a boundary whenever they needed it, but they also kept losing wickets. In the end, they had Nos. 9 and 10 at the crease when Umesh slogged Perera high over long-on.