Kings XI Punjab fell to a first defeat of IPL 10, beaten for the eighth time in a row by Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens Thursday.
Chasing 171 to win, Kolkata cruised to an eight-wicket victory with 21 balls to spare – Gautam Gambhir (72 not out off 49 balls) notching a 33rd IPL fifty, and pinch-hitter Sunil Narine striking a personal best 37 off 18 balls.
Earlier, Umesh Yadav took 4-33 for the Knight Riders, and England’s Chris Woakes 2-30, to restrict Kings XI to 170-9 batting first.
Numerous Kings XI players were guilty of not capitalising on promising starts with the bat – as many as five fell in the 20s, including overseas stars Hashim Amla (25), Glen Maxwell (25) and David Miller (28).
In reply, Kolkata’a surprising move to open the batting with Narine proved a masterstoke as the West Indian spinner smashed four fours and three sixes in the early exchanges.
The Knight Riders score had progressed to 76 by the time Narine finally fell in the sixth over, but Gambhir’s fine innings comfortably skippered his side to victory.
Though it ultimately proved to be a routine win, Kolkata were pretty poor in the field after winning the toss and putting their opponents into bat.
On top of multiple misfields, Manan Vohra (28) was dropped on 17 by Narine, while Maxwell was put down on five off Woakes’ bowling.
At the 10-over stage, Kings XI were well-placed at 95-2, but stuttered to a 75-7 showing in the second half of their innings, with three wickets in Yadav’s 18th over particularly derailing them.
Gambhir and Narine’s explosive efforts swiftly moved Kolkata ahead of the rate and to their highest ever powerplay score in the IPL of 76.
Varun Aaron got Narine to hole out to deep midwicket with the fourth ball of that final powerplay over, but had been blasted for 16 from the first three deliveries.
The innings lost no momentum, with Robin Uthappa also timing the ball nicely in his 16-ball 26, Gambhir grabbing another IPL fifty, while it was Manish Pandey (25no off 16) who hit the winning runs, striking Marcus Stoinis for six over long-on.