Kings XI Punjab v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL, Durban April 22, 2009

Gayle helps Kolkata home in rain-hit game

Kolkata Knight Riders 79 for 1 (Gayle 44*, McCullum 21) beat Kings XI Punjab 158 for 6 (Yuvraj 38, Pathan 32, Ganguly 2-24) by 11 runs by D/L method
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
How they were out

Sourav Ganguly made yet another comeback, this time with the ball, to help Kolkata Knight Riders keep Kings XI Punjab down to 158 for 6. Thereafter, Chris Gayle made the most of two dropped chances to dishearten Punjab and take Kolkata 11 ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis par-score when heavy rain ended the match in the 10th over.

Ganguly had been quiet in the lead-up to this tournament; he had lost his captaincy and looked out of sorts in scoring 1 in 12 balls against Deccan Chargers. Today, though, he made his statement with the ball, taking two wickets in his first over and pulling Punjab back from a solid-yet-unspectacular start.

When Ganguly came on to bowl, Irfan Pathan, promoted to No. 3, had just taken Ishant Sharma for 14 in his third over, and Punjab had moved along to 46 for 1 at the end of six overs. Thirty-two of those had come from Irfan's bat, in 17 deliveries.

And then Ganguly struck, fortuitously at first. Irfan went for a six to the deep midwicket area and was caught smartly by Murali Kartik at the boundary. Two balls later, Ganguly got Ravi Bopara, the opener, to edge to the new captain, Brendon McCullum. Both men were elated, the captain with his bowling change, the bowler having proved a point, and both ran in different directions to celebrate and eventually hugged each other.

Punjab moved from 46 for 1 in six to 67 for 3 in ten overs before a rain interruption. Following that, Punjab enjoyed two of the best overs of their innings. Yuvraj Singh hit a six off Ganguly to take 14 off his third over. Yet, Ganguly ended with figures of 24 for 2 off his four. And just after the rain break, in perhaps a poor tactical move, McCullum brought Chris Gayle on, who had trouble gripping the wet ball and bowled three wides in his 14-run over.

Yuvraj couldn't quite manage a reprise of his six sixes in an over at the same venue, during the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. And once he top-edged Moises Henriques in the 16th over, falling for 38 off 28, caught by Yashpal, Punjab were always struggling.

Thirty-six came off 26 balls after Yuvraj's fall, thanks largely to Mahela Jayawardene, who scored 31 in 19, and took the last over, bowled by Ashok Dinda, for 16, the biggest over of the innings.

But the hitting from Irfan, Yuvraj and Jayawardene paled in comparison with Gayle's. He played the first two overs quietly, and enjoyed a dropped sitter by Karan Goel at short midwicket off Yusuf Abdulla. It was a forgettable day for Goel, who had earlier scored a seven-ball duck.

Once Gayle carved Irfan over cover-point in the third over of the innings, the floodgates opened. From 4 off 8 balls, he reached 31 off 15 through a calculated assault on the left-arm opening bowlers. And then, in the fifth over of the innings, the game breaker came. Irfan was spanked straight and pulled square off the first two balls, and then Gayle showed him the greens, teeing off to over wide long-on.

By the time Gayle was dropped again, by Kumar Sangakkara, off a Piyush Chawla googly, he had taken the match out of Punjab's reach as the dark clouds gathered.

For the second game in succession, Punjab have been curtailed by rain, but this time they succumbed to Ganguly and Gayle, as opposed to their first match, when Delhi's chase was reduced to a six-over hit-out.

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo