Jacques Kallis’ all-round show enabled defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders to check their dismal home record this season and register a six-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens, on Friday night.
Kallis took two for 14 in his four overs and then contributed a brisk 37 as Kolkata chased 150 for victory. But butter-fingers Punjab had only themselves to blame. They took themselves to a fighting total batting first, but floundered in the field.
Manvinder Bisla was dropped by Mandeep Singh at mid-wicket and later in the chase, the dangerous Eoin Morgan was put down by Bhargav Bhatt in the deep.
Both reprieved batsmen made Kings XI pay dearly for their follies. Bisla slapped three sixes in his 44-ball 51, while by the time Morgan was finally caught at mid-on, the Englishman has smashed 42 in 26 balls, with Kolkata needing just two to win off seven balls. The two added 72 in 44 balls.
It was an eventful start to the chase. Azhar Mahmood struck in successive balls of the second over to peg Kolkata back. Having suffered the drop of Bisla off his bowling, Mahmood castled Gautam Gambhir with gorgeous in-swinger next ball.A woefully out-of-touch Yusuf Pathan then edged for Adam Gilchrist to take a low diving catch, leaving Kolkata two down.
From such uninspiring beginnings, Bisla and Jacques Kallis took things ahead, staying in the vicinity of the asking rate that had now inched to about eight rune per over. The South African all-rounder laced six delightful boundaries in his 37 before the introduction of medium-pacer Harmeet Singh claimed him on the outside edge.
Things looked headed into a close finish when the new man Morgan decided to swing it. He nudged the effective Piyush Chawla – who was no doubt troubling him – to fine-leg for four and chipped Harmeet over long-on for six. The momentum achieved, the rest of the runs were easy pickings, as the target was achieved with ten balls to spare.
Punjab’s innings was one of false starts. Almost all their batsmen got going, but failed to capitalize on the time spent in the middle. Gilchrist (27), Mandeep (25), Manan Vohra (31) and David Hussey (21) all contributed to some extent, but gave up their wickets when they were required to accelerate.
Kallis was the pick of the bowlers, picking up the aggressive Mandeep and the dangerous Hussey while conceding just 14 in his four overs. Mystery spinner Narine too was his usual miserly self, and although he finished wicket-less, a tight over from him brought about the run-out of a scratchy Mahmood.
After Kolkata had more or less controlled play during the death overs, Gurkeerat Singh, who was earlier responsible for Mahmood’s run-out, made the last six balls delivered by Laxmipathy Balaji count for 18. Gurkeerat struck two sizzling sixes as skipper Gambhir gave his bowler an earful, but it proved to little for Morgan’s dashing ways.