x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Lee and Balaji hand Deccan Chargers another loss

Kolkata Knight Riders win by five wickets after Kings XI Punjab beat Mumbai Indians by six wickets.

Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled Kumar Sangakkara out for just 12 to put Deccan Chargers on the backfoot. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP
Lakshmipathy Balaji bowled Kumar Sangakkara out for just 12 to put Deccan Chargers on the backfoot. Dibyangshu Sarkar / AFP

Brett Lee, Lakshmipathy Balaji and Sunil Narine bowled sensationally last night as Kolkata Knight Riders beat Deccan Chargers by five wickets in the eastern Indian city of Cuttack.

The Australian Lee took one for 15 off his four overs to keep it tight at one end as fellow fast bowler Balaji (2-22) and Narine, the West Indian off-spinner (2-26) took the wickets to derail the Chargers batting despite a fighting fifty from Shikhar Dhawan, the opening batsman.

Lee, who won the man-of-the-match award, said their bowling was down to understanding the conditions well.

"We summed the wicket up pretty well today," he said. "We tried to put the new ball up there to try and get the nicks, but then we took pace off it."

Balaji was clearly the bowler of the night as he troubled the Deccan batsmen with subtle variations. He accounted for the wickets of Kumar Sangakkara, the Deccan captain and opening batsman, as well as Ankit Sharma.

Chasing 127 to win, Kolkata reached their target in 19 overs.

Considered one of the most promising seamers of his generation in India in the early 2000s, Balaji seems to have taken to the Twenty20 format even as a comeback into the India team remains a distant dream.

The Chennai boy made his India debut in a forgettable outing against West Indies in 2002 when he was taken apart by Chris Gayle and conceded 44 runs off just four overs before being consigned to domestic cricket. There he got his act together and made a sensational comeback during India's memorable 2003/04 tour of Australia where he was among the wickets in one-day series.

He continued to bowl – and even occasionally bat – consistently well in both the Tests and one-dayers in Pakistan in 2004 before he broke down with one injury after another.

The 30 year old, who has taken 27 wickets from eight Test outings and has 34 wickets in 30 one-dayers, can still hope and dream of making a comeback – this time in Twenty20 cricket – if he continues to bowl the way he has.

Earlier in the day, Shaun Marsh hit an unbeaten 68 off 40 balls as Kings XI Punjab defeated Mumbai Indians by six wickets yesterday in Sachin Tendulkar's comeback match, but both captains acknowledged it was the difference in fielding standards by both sides that determined the result.

“Our fielding set the tone,” said David Hussey, the Punjab captain, before adding that, “164 was about par.”

Harbhajan Singh, his opposite number, said: “They [Punjab] stopped about 15-odd runs. Had we fielded the way they did, we could have won.”

But credit must also go to Marsh who hit five fours and three sixes and shared a match-winning fourth wicket stand of 58 off 38 balls with Hussey (21) as Kings XI romped to 164 for four in 19.3 overs.

Tendulkar, who missed the previous four games for Mumbai with a hand injury, scored 23 before he was run out but it was James Franklin’s 79 with six fours and four sixes that anchored Mumbai to 163 for six. Mumbai were on course to get more runs before Dinesh Karthik (35) was run out in the 16th over with the score on 131 while going for the second run.

Praveen Kumar got rid of Franklin and Harbhajan off successive full tosses as Mumbai could score only 33 in the last five overs and lost four wickets.

The Kings XI openers Nitin Saini (30) and Mandeep Singh (24) provided a solid platform of 48 before Marsh and Hussey kept scoring at a strong pace.

Mumbai still had a chance with Kings XI needing 20 off the last two overs. However, Marsh hit Munaf Patel over mid-wicket for six in the penultimate over and then hit Thisara Perera’s low full toss over point boundary for another six in the last over to win.


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