Kolkata Knight Riders came up with a lively performance when she desperately needed it.
The men from the eastern metropolis arrived in Ahmedabad after losing their last four matches. Monday night at Narendra Modi stadium against Kings XI Punjab, they redeemed themselves in a certain style.
They had to survive anxious moments before chasing a modest target of 124. They won with five wickets and 3.2 overs to lose.
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It was KKR’s second win of the season, the first coming over a fortnight ago, in their opener against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The way he started his pursuit, a fifth straight loss was not entirely out of the question.
The Knights lost three wickets in the first three overs. But just when it looked like the batsmen could let down their bowlers, who had put on a magnificent show earlier in the evening, Eoin Morgan raised his hand.
The captain, whose scores at this IPL were 0, 7, 29, 7, 2, played a great round under pressure. He remained 47 not released (40b). It was his fourth wicket stand of 66 with Rahul Tripathi (41, 32b) leading his team to victory.
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KKR was in dire straits, at 17 for three, when Morgan joined Tripathi. Nitish Rana had come off the fourth ball of the inning, hitting Moises Henriques’ full draw to cover, where a grateful Shahrukh Khan dove to his right and took a two-handed hold.
In the sequel, Mohammed Shami made sure Shubman Gill would have to wait longer to get back into form, trapping him lbw with the opener missing the line. Sunil Narine got out, but KKR’s move didn’t work – thanks in large part to a superb capture from Ravi Bishnoi, who ran some distance from the deep central gate and timed his dive to perfection.
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Previously, KKR bowlers have justified their captain’s decision to play first. It was a disciplined effort from couturiers Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna as well as the spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine, as they smothered the drummers of Punjab.
Cummins provided the breakthrough in the final PowerPlay over, with KL Rahul – just after a six on the third man – skiing a hold to a patient Nostril mid-race.
Then Mavi mistook Chris Gayle for a golden duck and Prasidh removed Deepak Hooda.
It took an 18-ball 30 from Chris Jordan in sequence to take the requested rate beyond six.