Punjab surge to fourth successive win
Kings XI Punjab 178 for 6 (Marsh 40, Gul 2-27) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 169 for 6 (Hussey 71, Saha 59*, Pathan 2-18, Sreesanth 2-25) by nine runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out
Incisive new-ball spells in helpful conditions by Irfan Pathan and Sreesanth ensured several trends continued - Kings XI Punjab maintained their momentum with a fourth successive win while the Kolkata Knight Riders slumped to their fourth straight defeat. Both innings were characterised by late bursts. Punjab hit 21 off their final over which put the match just beyond the reach of Kolkata, who scored 75 off overs 15 to 19, but still fell nine short after a sluggish start.
After Sreesanth removed Sourav Ganguly, slashing to Pathan at third man, Pathan struck twice in one over to leave Kolkata reeling. Pathan has always been a dangerous bowler when he gets the ball swinging back into the right-hand batsman and Mohammad Hafeez and Brad Hodge fell in the space of five balls. Sreesanth added Debradata Das to make it 29 for 4 after five overs, the most wickets to fall in that space of time in the tournament, and when VRV Singh bowled Laxmi Ratan Shukla at 50 for 5, Kolkata seemed to be heading for a massive defeat. David Hussey and young Wriddhiman Saha, however, had other ideas.
The pair started slowly, playing out a couple of overs before Hussey took Gagandeep Singh, who had bowled two very tidy overs, for 17 runs, including a massive six over long-on. There was another quiet over before the pair really turned it on. The big hits were complemented by agile running between the wickets and they brought the equation down to 55 off 18 deliveries. James Hopes, back after missing three games, served up several full tosses which were promptly deposited into the crowd and when Gagandeep was taken for 18 in the penultimate over, the equation had come down to 19 off the last six balls, after Hussey was dismissed for a 46-ball 71.
Pathan kept his nerve and sent down a mix of yorkers and low full tosses and despite some big swings only four runs came off the first three balls. There was no fairytale ending for Kolkata.
After Punjab chose to bat, several of their batsmen failed to capitalise on their starts - three of their top five got into double digits but didn't make it to 20. Hopes, coming in for Ramnaresh Sarwan, carved a few powerful boundaries square on the offside before top-edging Ashok Dinda to mid-on. Yuvraj Singh looked imperious, as in the previous game, plundering 14 off an Hafeez over before over-balancing to be stumped and Mahela Jayawardene lofted a huge six over midwicket before miscuing a bouncer from Umar Gul to mid-on.
Shaun Marsh, fresh from his match-winning IPL debut against Deccan Chargers, kept his composure at the other end to make a pleasing 40. There were some crisp drives in his knock, with one through the covers off Dinda early on standing out. He was stumped, missing a flighted delivery from Hussey, as Kolkata started to gain the upper hand. When Karan Goel was run out a couple of overs later, Punjab had slid to 106 for 5 from 82 to 1.
Kumar Sangakkara, who retired on 10 with a side strain, returned to lead the fightback with Pathan. He again demonstrated the importance of timing and placement in Twenty20 before departing for 28, bowled by Gul, who at US$150,000 is providing competition to Shane Watson for being the bargain buy of the IPL. Pathan remained unbeaten on 24, but the acceleration at the end was provided by Piyush Chawla, who hit three fours and a six off Ishant Sharma's final over.
It has been a stunning resurgence from Punjab, who after being bottom of the table after two games are now tied for top spot. Kolkata, though, have gone in the opposite direction, dropping from table-toppers to four points behind the teams in the semi-final places.
Siddarth Ravindran is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo