Rain played spoilsport yet again for the Kings XI Punjab as they went down crashing to the Kolkata Knight Riders and lost by 11 runs through Duckworth-Lewis system at Kingsmead in Durban. One would remember that even in the previous encounter against the Delhi DareDevils, Yuvraj Singh’s team had to experience rain and the same system had ensured that they went on to lose the match.
The Kolkata Knight Riders had been set a target of 159 runs in the allocated twenty overs; a score which wasn’t a huge one, but a competitive all the same given the conditions. Yet, the team hadn’t come across the sleeping giant by the name of Chris Gayle, who decimated the bowling to smithereens and propelled the Knight Riders to a relatively easy win.
Opening the innings with captain McCullum, the first three overs were relatively quiet with only 16 runs coming off them. However, that also included a sitter of a catch doled out by Gayle dropped by Karan Goel. There was no looking back after that as the next three overs had a sequence of 14, 17 and 13 runs respectively; most of the coming off the blade of the burly West Indian captain.>
Vikramjeet Malik did claim the wicket of McCullum and the end of the PowerPlay did reduce the scoring, yet, when the heavens opened, the KKR team was 79/1 in 9.2 overs and 11 runs in front of the opponents. Unfortunately, the rains never stopped and the match had to be called off at that very moment to hand the Knight Riders their first win.
Earlier, an early loss of a wicket for the Kings XI Punjab – Karan Goel (0) – brought the pinch-hitting abilities of Irfan Pathan to the fore. Pathan begun with a boundary and continued with four more such strokes along with a miscued six and as is often the case in T20, he had sped away to 32 in 17 deliveries.
It took the part-time medium pace bowling of Sourav Ganguly to get rid of Pathan, who then had Ravindra Bopara – the other opener – caught by McCullum as well.
Yuvraj Singh played a cameo of 38(28) and Mahela Jayawardena supported him and carried the inning through with an unbeaten 31 off 19 balls as the Kings XI Punjab ended with 158/6 in their 20 overs. At that stage, the Punjab team would have considered it to be a big enough score, yet, the strong batting line-up of Kolkata which hadn’t shone against the Royal Challengers in their previous match came out all guns blazing and took the match away from them.
Gayle was the obvious choice for the Man-of-the-Match. With this win, KKR are now at two points off two matches and KXP have yet to open their account.