Karthik blitz keeps Punjab in race
Kings XI Punjab 181 for 4 (Dinesh Karthik 69, S Marsh 42, RP Singh 4-25) beat Kochi Tuskers Kerala 178 for 7 (Jayawardene 76, Bipul Sharma 2-32) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball by ball details
Kings XI Punjab beat the Kochi Tuskers Kerala by six wickets in a boundary-rich encounter at the IPL's newest venue, Indore, keeping their hopes of making the play-offs alive. Emphatic batting from Dinesh Karthik and Shaun Marsh, who put on a 111-run stand for the third-wicket, made the difference on a surface that was good for batting, in a stadium with short boundaries and a quick outfield.
Karthik and Marsh's bruising combination nullified the earlier efforts of Mahela Jayawardene. The Kochi captain had played a classy innings of 76 in which he alternated effortlessly between elegant flicks, casual lofted strokes and crunching blows to propel the Kochi ship to 178.
Adam Gilchrist and Paul Valthathy started the chase in measured fashion against RP Singh and Sreesanth but with the target they had to chase, they could not afford to hang around for too long. Valthaty began the assault, smashing RP for two sixes off short balls before being bowled with the full one.
Gilchrist continued watchfully and was out in RP's next over, trying to pull over midwicket but only succeeding in getting an edge through to Parthiv Patel, leaving Punjab in trouble.
Karthik and Marsh weren't pushed into a shell by that though. They took on the bowling and managed at least one boundary off every over they faced together. Some overs were more profitable than others. Marsh was feeding off the full delivery, getting under them and driving aerially, while Karthik cashed in on the short balls. He hit the balls particularly furiously and brought up his 50 with a blistering swipe through midwicket.
As he and Marsh had Punjab needing about a run-a-ball for victory, when RP returned and struck twice again. Karthik drove in the air to extra cover and Mahela Jayawardene timed his leap to perfection, snatching it out of the sky. He stuck again in that over, removing Marsh with a spectacular reflex catch off his own bowling.
It slowed Punjab down a touch, but not enough as David Hussey and Mandeep Singh took them across the finish line. In the end Punjab got away with the 19 wides they sent down while bowling and the blistering start they allowed Jayawardene and Brendon McCullum to get off to.
The Kochi pair were offered a healthy amount of short ball and flighted deliveries from Ryan Harris and Bipul Sharma and took full advantage. The nature of the track allowed them to punish even decent balls and they put on 93 for the first wicket. McCullum fell to Sharma after being trapped lbw while attempting the sweep shot but Jayawardene was unmoved by the loss of his partner.
With Ravindra Jadeja, he took Kochi to 103 for 1 at the halfway stage. Jadeja smacked one gorgeous six off Piyush Chawla before the lespinner had him out lbw. The runs slowed a little after that. The third fifty took 44 balls to come, during which Jadeja and Brad Hodge were out, and Jayawardene had to rein himself in a little.
He formed another damaging partnership with Owais Shah, who had his first outing in the IPL this season. Shah hit an entertaining 23 off 11 balls before being run-out after struggling to hear the call from Jayawardene, who was himself run out off the last ball. A flurry of wickets at the end pegged Kochi back and kept them from striding over the 200 mark.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent