Kolkata Knight Riders (150/1) put together their best display of the 2014 IPL season so far to beat league-leaders Kings XI Punjab (149/8) by nine wickets on Sunday. The win will take them past Sunrisers Hyderabad into the top four of the standings, keeping their play-off dreams alive.
Morne Morkel and Sunil Narine put together a bowling clinic, and while Virender Sehwag did go off for 72 runs on 50 balls to open the match, the rest of Punjab's batsmen were held to an incredible high of 15 total runs.
|Kings XI Punjab (149/8)|
|Virender Sehwag||b Piyush Chawla||72||50||144.00||11||1|
|Mandeep Singh||c Robin Uthappa b Morne Morkel||0||3||0.00||0||0|
|Wriddhiman Saha||b Morne Morkel||15||9||166.66||3||0|
|Glenn Maxwell||c Morne Morkel b Piyush Chawla||14||14||100.00||1||0|
|David Miller||b Umesh Yadav||13||14||92.85||1||0|
|George Bailey||NOT OUT||12||11||109.09||0||0|
|Rishi Dhawan||b Piyush Chawla||4||6||66.66||0||0|
|Mitchell Johnson||st Robin Uthappa b Sunil Narine||14||12||116.66||1||1|
|Akshar Patel||run out (Suryakumar Yadav)||1||1||100.00||0||0|
|EXTRAS||(w 2, b 1, lb 1)||4|
|TOTAL||(8 wickets; 20 overs)||149|
|Ryan ten Doeschate||1||6||0||6.00||3|
IPL run-leader Glenn Maxwell was one of many who ran into a ferocious bowling display, finishing with a disappointing 14 runs off 14 balls. Kings XI were unable to get anything going against Narine and Morkel, and as Freddie Wilde put it, that had more to do with the brilliance of Kolkata's off-spin man:
Knight Riders won the toss and elected to put Punjab in to bat first, as captain Gautam Gambhir rightfully showed a lot of confidence in his group of bowlers. Gambhir had his tactics spot-on in this match, and the eventual target of 149 was a manageable one, even against the league-leaders.
Punjab's bowling was atrocious, however, dismissing just a single batsman before the end of the chase. Robin Uthappa opened brilliantly with 46 runs off 28 balls and captain Gambhir would add 63 off 45 not out, all but dooming Kings XI.
|Kolkata Knight Riders (150/1)|
|Robin Uthappa||c Akshar Patel b Parvinder Awana||46||28||164.28||8||1|
|Gautam Gambhir||NOT OUT||63||45||140.00||7||0|
|Manish Pandey||NOT OUT||36||35||102.85||3||0|
|EXTRAS||(w 3, lb 2)||5|
|TOTAL||(1 wickets; 18 overs)||150|
Manish Pandey paired with Gambhir and patiently worked his way to 36 off 35, including the final run off Sandeep Sharma to give his team a much-needed win.
The tournament has been turned on its head since the move from the United Arab Emirates to India, with Mumbai Indians finally finding their groove and now Punjab putting together an absolutely toothless performance.
The team's batting was bad, but Kolkata's bowling and fielding deserve a lot of credit for limiting the production of the likes of Maxwell and David Miller (13 off 14). The bowling, however, was an absolute disaster, as shared by Freddie Wilde:
Uthappa's 46-runs opening played a large part in his team's victory, and he felt Gambhir's decision to bat second played a large part in Kolkata's win, via espncricinfo.com:
Happy to contribute to the team's success. Gautam's instinct is to bat second, and all of us are on board with him. We knew they [Punjab] could be a little complacent, and we wanted to make use of any gaps they gave us.
Gambhir praised his opener after the match, as Uthappa's 46 took a lot of the pressure off both the captain and the men who followed in the order:
"Robin's taken a lot of pressure off me since he started opening. On this kind of wicket, a lot of credit goes to Morne Morkel as well. Chawla bowled brilliantly, hopefully he can continue the same way."
For Knight Riders, this is the second straight big win following their dominant eight-wicket performance against Delhi Daredevils, and with two weeks of competition left before the start of the play-offs, Kolkata appear to be rounding into form at just the right time.
Indians may have lost on Saturday, but they still figure to push Hyderabad and Kolkata for a spot in the top four. The meeting between Knight Riders and Mumbai on Wednesday could have a massive impact on the play-off race, and no team appears to be hotter going into that match than Kolkata are right now.
Narine and company will have to be as good as they were against Punjab, however, with Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma able to put runs up on the board against the best of them.
Kings XI Punjab will have to shake this embarrassing loss in a hurry, but the silver lining might be that things can't get much worse than they did on Sunday.
Maxwell and Miller are still two of the top four batsmen left in competition and won't be held to less than 30 runs on a consistent basis. Backed by their production, the rest of the line-up should be able to play with a little less pressure on their shoulders.
But the bowling is a concern, and a match against David Warner and his Sunrisers will be a good way of finding out whether the bowlers just had a day off or whether Punjab are in serious trouble ahead of the play-offs.
All statistics used are courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo, unless stated otherwise.