Kings Xi Punjab: 155/9 (20 overs)
Kolkata Knight Riders: 159/6 (17.5 overs)
Kolkata Knight Riders won the match by 4 wickets.
Pune: They are the defending champions. So at least its hard to accept that they will lose consecutive matches. But in previous editions of IPL, KKR fans’re habituated to see this thing. So a slight fear was in mind when Gambhir & company was playing against the last years Runner-up team at Pune. The Punjab fans were seeing this match as a revenge of last year Final lost too. When KKR was 5 wickets down at the score of 60, Punjab brigade was very much charged. But very unfortunate for Punjab lovers that West Indian All-rounder Andre Russell’s spectacular all-round performance helped defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders thrashed Kings XI Punjab by 4 wickets.
It was a day to remember for Russell as he first took 2/39 while bowling apart from couple of smart catches during KXIP innings.
With the willow, he belted nine boundaries and two sixes adding 95 runs in 9.2 overs for the sixth wicket with Yusuf Pathan (28 no) to take his team home which looked unlikely after the first eight overs when half of the team was back in the dug-out.
Russell scored his 50 off 28 balls with eight boundaries and a six as he got a standing ovation from his teammates.
When he was finally out, KKR had tied the scores.
Defending a not so big total, KXIP bowlers needed to do well upfront and young Sandeep Sharma responded brilliantly with figures of 4/25 as polished off the top-order with some incisive swing bowling as they were reduced to 60 for five in 8 overs.
He got the ball to shape in consistently getting Robin Uthappa (13), Manish Pandey (12) and Ryan ten Doeschate (0) with incoming deliveries. Ten Doeschate was a bit unlucky as replay showed that he got an inside edge.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir, who has been pretty consistent so far got one which Sandeep slanted across and Wriddhiman Saha took an easy catch.
Saha however took a brilliant diving catch to cut short Suryakumar Yadav (23 off 10 balls)’s little cameo when he tried to steer a Thisara Perera delivery towards vacant third-man boundary.
Once they were down in the dumps at 60 for five, Russell came in and started to counter-attack at the bowlers which paid dividends. Surprisingly, it was Pathan (28*) at the other end, who was playing the second fiddle in their partnership as they took their team home with minimum fuss.
Earlier, a disciplined performance by the Kolkata Knight Riders bowlers enabled them to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 155 for 9 in stipulated 20 overs.
For the home team, skipper George Bailey played an useful hand with a 45-ball-60 while Glenn Maxwell (33) also showed some promise during his brief stay as KKR bowlers performed as a unit giving awya hardly anything.
Pacers Umesh Yadav (3/33), Morne Morkel (2/27) and Andre Russell (2/39) were impressive as they never let the KXIP batsmen dominate the bowling for a lengthy period of time.
The highlight of the KXIP innings was a 63-run stand for the fourth wicket between Bailey and Maxwell, who first time looked in some sort of touch. Bailey had five fours and two sixes in his innings.
Maxwell got a lease of life when Yusuf Pathan dropped a dolly at deep mid-wicket off Russell’s bowling. It was the simplest of chances as Maxwell was on 13 and KXIP not out of woods at 51 for three.
But the Aussie couldn’t capitalise on the miss although he showed glimpses of returning back to form during his 26-ball 33 that had two fours and two sixes.
He added 63 with skipper Bailey befire being holed out off Yadav’s bowling as Russell took a lovely catch diving forward at sweeper boundary.
After being put into bat, Murali Vijay (0) failed to open his account as he was done in by extra bounce with Russell taking a smart catch running from mid-wicket.
Saha (15) did hit a four and a six but didn’t look comfortable against the extra bounce. After successfully connecting two pull shots, he failed while attempting a third pull off Morne Morkel as the thickish outside edge was taken by Pathan at first slip.
Virender Sehwag (11) hit a lovely square drive off Russell bisecting the two fielders at point and gully. But Russell got the revenge as he fired one towards his pads and the flick was snapped by Piyush Chawla at short square leg at reduce KXIP to 27 for three before Maxwell-Bailey duo resurrected the innings.