Punjab hold nerve to win thriller
Kings XI Punjab 134 for 9 (Mandeep Singh 38, Narine 5-19 ) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 132 for 7 (Das 35, Chawla 3-18) by 2 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A triple strike from Piyush Chawla in the middle of the Knight Riders innings and last over heroics from Harmeet Singh brought Kings XI back from the dead to beat their hosts in unlikely fashion. After posting a below par 134 and allowing Knight Riders to canter to 71 for 2 at the halfway stage of the chase, Kings XI relied on a spectacular effort from their legspinner to negate Sunil Narine's jaw-dropping 5 for 19.
Narine's strangling efforts and Rajat Bhatia and Shakib al Hasan's supporting efforts kept the lid on Kings XI. Knight Riders were favoured to chase down a moderate target after Gautam Gambhir started with a speedy 22 and Manvinder Bisla and Manoj Tiwary steered the reply with a stand of 43. But, the home side unravelled after Chawla removed three of their key batsmen, Bisla, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib. Debrabata Das threatened to take the match to its expected conclusion with his aggressive innings but a slew of legbreaks from Harmeet ensured Kings XI defended what seemed hard to defend at one stage.
Gambhir began in a hurry. The early loss of Jacques Kallis - caught spectacularly by Paras Dogra at point - did nothing to deter him as he collected boundaries at will before offering Dimitri Mascarenhas a simple return catch.
Despite the departure of their captain, Bisla and Tiwary continued the task stoically and formed a partnership that would not have been out of place in longer formats of the game. They rotated strike, searched for singles and only targeted the boundary when they got a bad ball. They seemed certain to guide Knight Riders to an easy win but the match turned when Tiwary was trapped in front by Bhargav Bhatt.
A tiny wound had been inflicted on Knight Riders and Chawla prised it open. He bowled Bisla with a delivery that did not turn and meted out the same to Yusuf Pathan with a legbreak in the same over. After 14 overs, Knight Riders were 85 for 5. Chawla had pulled them back to exactly the position Kings XI had been in at that stage - 85 for 3. He struck again, with a googly to Shakib al Hasan, to have the Bangladesh all-rounder caught of his own bowling.
Das defied the Kings XI charge. He started by smacking a full toss from Chawla for a straight six. As full deliveries were offered to him, he smoked them to the boundary. Ryan ten Doeschate provided some support and the pair took Knight Riders to within 13 runs of victory with two overs left.
Praveen Kumar gave away only four of those runs, bowling an over punctuated with yorkers and Harmeet had nine runs to work with in the final over. His seemingly harmless legbreaks had ten Doeschate frustrated as he played on. Harmeet then proved impossible to get away as he made up for Kings XI's lapses with the bat through cunning bowling.
Kings XI saw off 36 dot balls in their innings and allowed Knight Riders' attack to create pressure and use it to their advantage. Narine struck twice in his opening spell - when Adam Gilchrist top-edged and attempted pull to depart for 5 and by bowling Shaun Marsh with a delivery that turned away from the left-hander.
Together with Kallis, he ensured Kings XI crawled to 31 for 2 after seven overs and that they did not score a single boundary in five of them. If not for the half-century stand between Mandeep Singh and David Hussey, they would have not got off the starting blocks at all. The pair settled in on the surface, started to time the ball better and occasionally challenged the fielders, beating them for boundaries and pushing them hard to turn singles into twos. Old-fashioned grit and grind helped them build but just as they were looking to launch, Mandeep slog swept straight to deep mid-wicket.
They were never really able to push after that as Hussey was run-out soon after and the dominoes fell steadily after that. Bhatia took two wickets in his final over and Narine also struck twice on being brought back on the attack. Kings XI scored 30 runs off the last two overs which, in the end, proved to be the difference.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent