Azhar Mahmood, the Kings XI Punjab allrounder, was happy to contribute with the ball after failing with the bat, as his team edged Kolkata Knight Riders for a four-run victory in Mohali on Tuesday evening. Azhar had fallen for a first-ball duck, part of offspinner Sunil Narine's hat-trick, but then took 3 for 21 as Kings XI reeled in Knight Riders in a chase they looked set to complete comfortably.
Mahmood's wicket haul included Jacques Kallis (whom he got early) and Eoin Morgan (who was well-set on 47), apart from Debabrata Das. The quality of the players he dismissed, left Mahmood pleased: "Kallis is one of the best allrounders in the world and Eoin Morgan, he is a finisher. I have played a lot of cricket against him so I know his strength and weakness. I bowled in the middle when it was crucial to get a wicket, and I got a wicket for my team," he told the IPL website. "I am quite pleased with that after getting a duck."
Knight Riders had slipped from 106 for 2 (52 needed off 42) to 128 for 6 (30 needed off 12). Parvinder Awana picked up a wicket in the penultimate over, but conceded 19. That left seamer Praveen Kumar to bowl the final over, with the visitors needing 11.
Mahmood, an experienced T20 practitioner, had advice for Praveen: "I used to bowl in the death, but Praveen hasn't bowled in the death and I was telling him what to bowl and where to bowl because against tailenders sometimes it is different as compared to the regular top and middle order batsmen."
Kings XI had set Knight Riders a target of 158. That was a below par batting show, Mahmood said. "It is a brilliant win, but we didn't play well enough. Our 157 was not good enough on this pitch. But as a unit we bowled really well and we got crucial wickets at crucial times."
That Kings XI even got to 157 was down to No. 8 Manpreet Gony, who slammed 42 off 18 balls after his side had been reduced to 99 for 6 in 15. Gony, who was bought by the team at the auction in February for US$500,000, was just the kind of lower-order big-hitter they were missing in their earlier games, Mahmood said. "He smashed the ball very well and that's what we need in the lower-order. We were missing someone like him coming down the order and getting some quick runs, so quite pleased with his performance. He is a good asset for our team."