The all-rounder Jacques Kallis does enough with the bat and ball to stop the hosts' losing streak against an insipid Kings XI side.
IPL: Knight Riders batsmen give Kolkata much-needed joy with win over Punjab
Toss Punjab, chose to bat
Punjab Vohra 31; Gurkeerat 28; Kallis 2-14
Kolkata Bisla 51 n.o, Morgan 42, Kallis 37; Mahmood 3-35
Man of the match Jacques Kallis (Kolkata)
KOLKATA // The sequence of losses might have had something to do with Eden Gardens being nowhere near as full as it usually is for a Kolkata Knight Riders match, but the still-sizeable crowd was treated to a long overdue win yesterday over Kings XI Punjab.
Playing the lead in Kolkata's successful run chase was Manvinder Bisla, who carried his bat, scoring an unbeaten 51 from 44 balls, to seal the six-wicket win.
Jacques Kallis, who was under an injury cloud, was passed fit to play, meaning that Brendon McCullum continued to wait his turn. But while there have been question marks over Kallis's batting form, there was never any doubt about his utility with the ball, and on Friday, he was easily Kolkata's best bowler, outperforming Sunil Narine, who had a rare wicket-less day.
It was Kallis who got Kolkata their first breakthrough in the seventh over, when he had Mandeep Singh whipping uppishly to Eoin Morgan at midwicket to end a decent start for Punjab, who had elected to bat after winning the toss.
Adam Gilchrist gave himself one more game and even played out a maiden over to Sachithra Senanayeke, before finally finding a few scoring shots. Mandeep was fluent too as Punjab put up 45 runs in the Power Play overs.
Morgan was again under the ball when Gilchrist swung Rajat Bhatia to deep midwicket to leave Punjab on 67 for 2. While there was no flourish to the Punjab batting effort, there was no noticeable dip in the scoring rate either.
Manan Vohra hit the first six of the innings off L Balaji before holing out to Debabrata Das on the point boundary in the same over, while David Miller's day went along similar lines when he hit Sarabjit Ladda for a huge six but was bowled off stump two balls later.
With David Hussey still in the middle though, a late surge was definitely on. But Kallis, back for his last over, had Hussey hitting straight to Senanayeke at long on. He finished with 2 for 14.
The promised surge almost never came, till Gurkeerat Singh Mann hit Balaji for two sixes and a four in the final over.
It seemed Kolkata were going to get lucky when Mandeep dropped an easy chance from Bisla at cover off Azhar Mahmood. But Mahmood soon swung the ball to bowl Gautam Gambhir, and followed it up with one that shaped away to take Yusuf Pathan's outside edge.
Bisla, who got his chance only because of Manoj Tiwary's injury, and Kallis, however, consolidated. Bisla hit the big ones, while Kallis chipped away with the singles and a sequence of classy hits to the fence.
He survived an lbw shout off Piyush Chawla, but then guided Harmeet Singh to Gilchrist. Bisla, however, in collaboration with Morgan, kept hammering away at the target, helped by Bhargav Bhatt dropping a sitter off Morgan. Morgan smashed four sixes in a 26-ball 42, and victory was eventually achieved with ten balls to spare.
Shamya Dasgupta is senior editor at Wisden India.
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