By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
Needing to hit a six off the final ball to force a Super Over, Glenn Maxwell’s big shot landed agonisingly inches short of the ropes as Kolkata Knight Riders edged Kings XI Punjab by two runs on Saturday. KKR snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi thanks to their spinner Sunil Narine’s measly 18th and 20th overss.
After registering a nail-biting win against Chennai Super Kings in their previous outing, it was back-to-back come-from-behind victory for KKR in the sixth match of the Dream 11 IPL. The two-time former champions were placed third with eight points.
The fifth consecutive defeat meant it was all but over for KXIP this year. With just four points against their name from seven games, they are virtually out of reckoning for play-offs. Only a small technical chance and some magical display in rest of the games can save them.
Chasing a target of 165, KXIP were cruising along at 144 for 1 in 17 overs. They needed almost a run-a-ball to break the four-match losing sequence but they just could not do it. The heroics of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal went in vain. The KXIP skipper and in-form opener Agarwal put on 115 runs partnership for the first wicket.
With 20 runs needed off the 12 balls, seamer M Prasidh Krishna (3 for 29) displayed his death bowling skills and bowled a masterful penultimate over which yielded just 6 runs.
The 24th game of the season saw a thrilling end as Maxwell struck the last ball high and looked like going for a six which could have forced the Super Over. However, TV camera angles showed that the ball landed just inside the boundary line. Sunil Narine, who bowled the tidy last over, scalped two to give able support to Prasidh Krishna.
In 2014 at Sharjah, KKR had beaten RCB by 2 runs. Another fewest winning margin for KKR was five runs when they had defeated the same opponent by five runs in the inaugural IPL edition at Kolkata.
Earlier, opting to bat first, KKR did not have a sound beginning as they lost a couple of early wickets. Last-match hero Rahul Tripathi (4) was sent back to the pavilion by pacer Mohammed Shami in the third over while Nitish Rana (2) was run out after a bad mix up with Shubman Gill. Both were caught at the same end of the crease.
Eoin Morgan had a 49-run stand for the third wicket with Gill. Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi grabbed the third wicket of Morgan (24), who tried to go over the short boundary but was caught at long-on by Maxwell. Then KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik ended his average scores so far with a sensational knock to turn the match on its head. Karthik and Gill batted aggressively and added 82 runs from 51 balls. Gill (57) logged his sixth IPL half-century before getting run out.
Andre Russell departed after scoring just five. Karthik, who was run out on the last ball of the innings, played a captain’s knock of 58 off just 29 balls with the help of eight boundaries and two sixes.
Narine has been reported for bowling with a Suspected Illegal Bowling Action against KXI Punjab at Abu Dhabi. The report was made by the on-field umpires according to the IPL’s Suspected Illegal Bowling Action Policy. Narine will be placed on the Warning List and is permitted to continue to bowl in the tournament. Another report will result in Narine being suspended from bowling in the ongoing tournament until cleared by the BCCI Suspect Bowling Action Committee.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 164 for 6 in 20 overs (Dinesh Karthik 58, Shubman Gill 57, Eoin Morgan 24; Ravi Bishnoi 1-25, Arshdeep Singh 1-25, Mohammed Shami 1-30) beat Kings XI Punjab 162 for 5 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 74, Mayank Agarwal 56, Nicholas Pooran 16, Glenn Maxwell 10; M Prasidh Krishna 3-29, Sunil Narine 2-28) by 2 runs. Man-of-the-match: Dinesh Karthik (KKR).