Manish Pandey powers Kolkata to second title
Manish Pandey's 94 runs from just 50 balls helped Kolkata beat Punjab by three wickets to win their second Indian T20 league title on Monday.
Punjab batted first and scored 199 runs in their 20 overs. Wriddhiman Saha, the Punjab wicketkeeper, helped his side with an unbeaten 115 runs from just 55 balls, an innings punctuated with ten fours and eight sixes.
Kolkata, in reply, were off to a shaky start and lost in-form opener Robin Uthappa for five in the first over. Captain Gautam Gambhir joined forces with Pandey to put on a 53-run stand for the second wicket.
Gambhir was dismissed for 23 in the seventh over but his departure didn't affect the tempo of the innings as Pandey clubbed the next delivery for a six over the covers.
Pandey and Yusuf Pathan then set about the chase in fine style and hit two sixes and a four from the next three overs. Still 111 runs adrift from Punjab's total at the half-way stage, Pandey switched to another gear. He smashed Pavinder Awana for two sixes and a four from the 11th over and then picked up two more boundaries off Karanveer Singh in the 14th over.
Pandey lost partners regularly but he stayed put and continued the relentless attack. He smashed Karanveer for two sixes and a four from the 17th over, before falling on the last ball of the same over.
Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine added the finishing touches to help Kolkata to another title.
"We have got four achievements, Ranji Trophy, Irani, cherry on the cake was the IPL," Pandey said. "I was very optimistic, and I love to play the crunch game. We got ten in the first over, and that was the time I thought, if we kept doing that, we'll get 200."
Gambhir said a strong all-round show helped his side to the title. "This is a ground where it is very difficult to defend. We wanted to get it down to 5 overs, 50 or 60 to get," he said.
"Manish played a fantastic innings, Yusuf chipped in, and Chawla hit that important six. Wriddhiman played an unbelievable innings. Manish is fearless."