A tight four-wicket spell from Andre Russell - in which he conceded just 20 runs - helped Kolkata narrowly beat Punjab by seven runs to climb to the top of the table in the Indian Twenty20 competition on Thursday.
Punjab's captain, Murali Vijay, had won the toss and opted to bowl first, but his bowlers found it difficult to dislodge Kolkata's in form openers, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa. The duo struck fluent half-centuries and added 101 runs for the opening partnership.
Gambhir and Uthappa scored at 7.48 runs an over, and laid a platform for an onslaught in the end. Yusuf Pathan and Russell chipped in with brisk innings as well to help their side post 164 in their 20 overs.
Punjab was off to a horror start with the bat, as Russell - who took the new ball - dismissed opener Marcus Stoinis and Manan Vohra in his first two overs. Morne Morkel then dislodged Vijay cheaply as well.
The impressive display of fast bowling restricted Punjab to just 37 runs in the Powerplay, and they looked to Glenn Maxwell, who came in with the score on 13 for 3, to bail them out of trouble.
The right hander powered the chase and smashed six fours and four sixes in his 42-ball 68. While Maxwell scored freely, the other Punjab batsmen found it difficult to match his tempo. When Maxwell finally fell to Piyush Chawla, Punjab was still 45 runs away from a target of 165 with only 26 balls in hand.
The onus then fell on David Miller to guide his side home and that's when Russell came to the fore again. He dismissed the dangerous Miller for just 13 in their 18th over. Russell had 11 runs to defend in the final over and he did so by picking up one wicket, apart from two run-outs, to finish with 4 for 20 in four overs. The win helped Kolkata climb to the top of the table.
"I love to play here, the fans here are amazing. Our batters have been doing the job most of the time and we had been letting them down earlier. But we proved ourselves tonight. We were trying to get 180 but their bowlers bowled yorkers very well. But we knew 160 was defendable on this ground. We had to bowl to our field, build pressure and take wickets," Russell said.