Kings XI Punjab registered an eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders, riding on half-centuries from Chris Gayle and Mandeep Singh at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday. This was Punjab's fifth victory on the trot and kept their playoff hopes alive, rising to fourth in the table.
The KL Rahul-led side, ahead of their fifth trot victory, advanced to the top half of the eight-team table, replacing KKR from the fourth position. KL Rahul and Mandeep Singh, chasing a modest target of 150 on a batting-friendly Sharjah ground, gave their side a good start by adding 47 runs for the opening wicket.
Varun Chakravarthy, the mystery spinner of KKR, celebrated his debut call-up to the Indian team by capturing KL Rahul leg before and giving an important breakthrough to his side. Afterwards, in the centre, Gayle merged with Mandeep Singh and took the game away from KKR, putting on an exact 100-run second-wicket stand.
The aggressive approach of Gayle allowed Mandeep to take his time in the middle and create his innings and that was done to perfection by the Punjab skipper and KXIP batsman who lost his father to a prolonged illness last Friday, scoring 66 balls not out of 56.
Earlier, KXIP skipper KL Rahul won the toss and invited KKR to bat, considering the dew factor in mind. The side of Eoin Morgan suffered a colossal blow as last match hero Nitish Rana lost a duck on the second ball of the innings.
As they ended Power play at 54/3, Shubman Gill and Morgan led KKR's counter-attack. In his 57-run knock, Shubman Gill smashed four sixes, while Morgan only managed two sixes but batted at a much higher strike rate than his partner at the other end. In the 10th to break the dangerous-looking partnership, KXIP leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi struck over, getting rid of Morgan, who had scored 40 off just 25 balls.
KXIP bowlers dominated the play after Morgan's dismissal and stopped the flow of runs, forcing the batters to make mistakes. All the other lower-order batsmen turned KKR's sorry figure to Barring Ferguson and were limited to a below-par total of 149/9 in 20 overs. As he returned with figures of 3/35 in his four-over spell, Shami was the preference of the bowlers for KXIP, while Chris Jordan and Ravi Bishnoi picked up two wickets each.