Gony leads Kings XI's twilight robbery
Kings XI Punjab 157 for 9 (Gony 42, Mandeep 41, Kallis 3-24, Narine 3-33, Senanayake 2-28) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 153 for 9 (Gambhir 60, Morgan 47, Mahmood 3-21, Praveen 2-26) by 4 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Kolkata Knight Riders dominated possession for about 80% of the match, but conceded goals in the last few minutes of either half. Playing his first match of this IPL, Manpreet Gony won Kings XI Punjab this game out of nowhere. The hosts were dead and buried reeling under a Sunil Narine hat-trick when Gony walked out to bat, but his 18-ball 42 gave Kings XI a target to bowl to. Still, Gautam Gambhir and Eoin Morgan were cruising home when Gony came back for his second spell, but those three overs for six runs - two of them wides - and the wicket of Gambhir caused enough panic for Knight Riders to crumble.
Forget the unfathomable - in Twenty20 - spin of Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake, which got Knight Riders the four big wickets of Kings XI's overseas batsmen for just 13 runs off 15 balls, it was the Indian domestic batsmen's ineptitude against the bouncer that proved to be the decider. Kings XI lost four of their batsmen to balls pitched short, but crucially, Knight Riders' Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan were deers in headlights when confronted with accurate bouncers.
When Tiwary came out to bat at the fall of Gambhir for a third straight half-century, Knight Riders needed only 52 off 41 with seven wickets in hand. Gony bounced him again and again, and it got uglier and uglier for Tiwary as he faced seven balls for one run, slogged at more than half of them, and left Knight Riders stuck. Yusuf wasn't much better, except that he lasted longer, and managed a top edge over the keeper in his 13 off 16.
The crucial difference between the two innings was that Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra of Kings XI had scored some runs - Mandeep managed a crucial 41 - before they were bounced. And when bounced, they didn't waste balls, and got out. Tiwary and Yusuf couldn't get out, and suddenly Knight Riders needed 30 off the last two overs. The problem for Kings XI was that they had run out of the overs from Azhar Mahmood, who took three wickets including that of Jacques Kallis and Morgan.
Kings XI had to bowl Parvinder Awana, and they did so in the 19th over. His Delhi team-mate, Rajat Bhatia, got stuck into him, and his two sixes brought it down to 11 off seven. Awana, though, had his own back as he beat Bhatia on the pull and bowled him top of middle and leg before signing off.
The canny Praveen Kumar had to bowl the crucial last over, and he nearly lost it with a huge wide down the leg side. Adam Gilchrist might be having a horror tournament with the bat, but dived full length to his left to save four runs. The game kept alive, Praveen bowled a superb final over, making sure that he was about a foot behind the front line for every ball. Whoever says he is not mentally fit for cricket is way off the mark.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo