Kings XI Punjab made it four wins on the bounce in the IPL, with a victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in a low-scoring match in Abu Dhabi.
Free-scoring Punjab have been unstoppable so far this tournament, and Kolkata did well to restrict them to only 132-9 from their 20 overs.
However, the Knight Riders could not take advantage of their good bowling performance, as they were all out for just 109.
Kolkata won the toss, choosing to field, and Punjab were a wicket down in the second over when Cheteshwar Pujara was run out, having been reprieved earlier after he was caught on a no ball.
Only Virender Sehwag could make a significant contribution in the top order, scoring 37 from 30 balls before being bowled by Piyush Chawla.
Morne Morkel took the key wicket of Glenn Maxwell, top scorer by some distance in the competition so far; he was bowled for 15 in the eighth over to leave Kings 58-3.
It was a huge wicket for the Knight Riders, as Maxwell's three previous innings were two knocks of 95 and one of 89, per sportswriter James Willoughby:
Fair to say Aussie Glenn Maxwell is seeing them okay in the Indian Premier League. Scores of 95, 89 and 95 from his first three matches.— James Willoughby (@jwilloughby26) April 22, 2014
Skipper Sehwag had praised Maxwell's influence pregame, saying, per NDTV:"His positive energy is infectious, and he loves to play golf and goof around. It's a great atmosphere in the dressing room with Maxwell being there."
And without Maxwell contributing, Punjab were lacking runs, as David Miller and George Bailey both fell to Chawla for 15 and 11, respectively.
Mitchell Johnson fell for a first-ball duck, as he was bowled by Sunil Narine in the 19th over, swiftly followed two balls later by Lakshmipathy Balaji, also for a duck, to leave Punjab 126-9.
They finished on 132-9 from their 20 overs, a strong effort from Kolkata considering Punjab's three previous scores had all been over 190.
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Media Slot #3
|Pujara||run out (Pandey)||8||8||1||0|
|Saha||lbw b Kallis||14||10||1||1|
|Miller||c Morkel b Chawla||14||10||2||0|
|Bailey||c Morkel b Chawla||11||15||1||0|
|Patel||st Uthappa b Narine||7||10||0||0|
|Balaji||lbw b Narine||0||2||0||0|
|Sandeep Sharma||not out||2||5||0||0|
|Extras||(w4, nb1, b1, lb2)||7|
However, Kolkata did not get their run chase off to a good start, scoring very slowly in their pursuit of the 133 target.
In the six over opening powerplay, they only scored 24 runs and lost the wickets of Manish Pandey, Jacques Kallis and Gautam Gambhir, who continued his horrendous competition form, scoring just one per Cricket Australia:
OUT! Gautam Gambhir gone for 1, which is how many runs he has made in four #IPL7 innings.— CA Digital Media (@CricketAus) April 26, 2014
Chris Lynn then went for 13, bowled by Akshar Patel in the 12th over, while Robin Uthappa was run out by Bailey for 19.
With the wickets of Yusuf Pathan and Chawla, Punjab were truly looking good for the win as they had Kolkata 66-7 with only six overs remaining.
And so it proved as the last three wickets fell, two bowled by Johnson, and Punjab claimed a 23-run victory to keep their perfect record intact.
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Media Slot #5
|Pandey||lbw b Sandeep Sharma||8||10||1||0|
|Kallis||c Maxwell b Balaji||9||11||2||0|
|Gambhir||c Patel b Sandeep Sharma||1||5||0||0|
|Uthappa||run out (Bailey)||19||27||2||0|
|Pathan||lbw b Dhawan||3||5||0||0|
|Yadav||c Johnson b Sandeep Sharma||34||17||3||1|
|Chawla||st Saha b Patel||0||2||0||0|
Punjab will look to continue their unbeaten run when they face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday, while Kolkata have Rajasthan Royals in their next game.