x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Classy Gambhir leads Kolkata to efficient victory over Punjab

A clinical 66 off 44 balls from the opener saw the Knight Riders home with 21 balls to spare against Kings XI.

Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Gautam Gambhir hit 66 not out off 44 balls against Kings XI Punjab. Prakash Singh / AFP
Kolkata Knight Riders batsman Gautam Gambhir hit 66 not out off 44 balls against Kings XI Punjab. Prakash Singh / AFP

The Kolkata Knight Riders got quick revenge over the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL with a comprehensive eight-wicket win in Mohali, three nights after being beaten by two runs at home.

The Knight Riders had failed to chase 134 at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Sunday night and Gautam Gambhir, the captain, had warned about "some strong and drastic decisions" after that game.

Last night, the left-hander was in a much better mood after anchoring the run chase with a measured, unbeaten 66.

"I have always mentioned that we have got quality in the dressing room [and] if we play to our potential, we are a strong side to beat," he said.

"We have played one game extra than other teams so hopefully we can try and continue the momentum from here."

Punjab chose to bat first after winning the toss, but were restricted to 124 for seven, managing only 10 boundaries - nine fours and a six - in their innings.

It was a disappointing batting performance from the hosts with two 24-run partnerships being the highest of the innings. The first of them was for the opening wicket and it finished with Paul Valthaty (eight) edging Brett Lee to the wicketkeeper.

Adam Gilchrist looked good at the other end until he tweaked a hamstring going for a single and the Australian was forced to retire on 28 in the sixth over with 44 on the board.

Mandeep Singh (six) and David Hussey (10) could not add much to the score, while Manvinder Bisla took a debatable catch behind the stumps to get rid of Shaun Marsh (33).

There were doubts over whether Bisla had taken the catch cleanly, but Marsh took the keeper's word and walked. Had the decision been referred to the third umpire, it could have gone either way.

Gilchrist returned to bat, without a runner, at the fall of the fifth wicket on 101 and helped carry the score to 124. The 40 year old even returned to keep wicket, but his bravado failed to inspire his teammates.

"I was starting to get into the innings and feeling pretty good," Gilchrist said. "So it [the injury] took the direction out of our innings and we never really wrestled it back.

"Their bowlers took some pace off at the right times and didn't allow us to get those big boundary shots in."

Gambhir and Brendon McCullum (15) did manage to get the big shots in, putting 53 on the board from 5.4 overs before the Kiwi pulled a long hop from Piyush Chawla to Dimitri Mascarenhas at short fine leg.

It was an embarrassing dismissal and the bowler was on his knees, trying to control his laughter.

Kolkata, however, had the last laugh, reaching their target with 21 balls to spare.

"We felt we struggled a little bit in the middle order, so we just wanted a little bit of experience and get a few wins under our belt," said Jacques Kallis, who came in to bat at number four and brought up the win with a four and a six.

"We know we have some fine strikers up the order and if we can balance that middle order of ours, we feel that's going to be our strength going forward."

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