Stretched at home, for once

Unless you're one of their ardent fans, watching Kolkata Knight Riders at their home ground isn't a particularly exciting experience, usually. In their last couple of matches, against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Daredevils, their batsmen got them to defendable totals without really hitting the high notes, and their spinners took over thereafter. There was no point in either of those matches where Knight Riders looked in trouble.

This game was different - and this would have been the case even if Andre Russell had finished the game himself without the last pair having to get involved. A number of Kings XI Punjab's batsmen gave glimpses of the kind of audacious strokeplay that took their team to the final last season, and even if none of them carried on to make a really substantial score, 183 was an excellent total.

Kings XI's imbalance exposed

But it didn't prove to be a winning total. Last season, Kings XI conceded 180-plus totals five times - and more than 200 twice - during the league phase, but still topped the table. That was because their batsmen were having a storming season. This season, their batting has run into a collective horror run, and the holes in their bowling attack have been exposed.

At the halfway point of Knight Riders' chase, they required 110 from 60 balls. At the 12-over mark, they were four down and needed 98 from 48. But you still felt that Knight Riders were in it. Against an attack without Mitchell Johnson - who has had an admittedly poor season - and containing three medium-fast seamers, a left-arm spinner who doesn't really turn the ball, and a couple of part-time offspinners, you felt a couple of big overs could sway the momentum again.

And so it proved. Anureet Singh discovered the tiny margin of error you have while bowling yorkers to someone with Russell's power and unpredictable footwork - he went deep in his crease before the bowler released, but didn't do it every ball. Russell and Yusuf Pathan also dismantled Axar Patel.

Maxwell makes the spinners think

For anyone who's watched Knight Riders' spinners strangle the life out of their recent matches, Glenn Maxwell's innings was refreshing to watch. For perhaps the first time in their recent stretch of home matches - apart from Angelo Mathews' late charge for Daredevils - someone was manipulating the field and upsetting the rhythm of the slower bowlers.

With third man inside the circle almost out of necessity, his reverse-sweep was always going to be productive, but Maxwell also exploited the area straight down the ground, hitting cleanly over the bowlers' heads, giving long-on and long-off no chance.

Maxwell has had a terrible season, and this return to form was too late in the piece to be of any real help to Kings XI, but he - and Wriddhiman Saha too - has shown future opponents a possible approach against Knight Riders on turning tracks. You have to be extremely gifted to play that way, of course, but why not try?

Vijay fails to capitalise

In Test cricket, M Vijay has curbed his tendency to throw away starts with silly shots, and is among the best in the world when it comes to his powers of concentration and self-denial. There's a lot more leeway to play silly shots in Twenty20, of course, but it was still frustrating to watch Vijay get off to such a domineering start - a flat-batted six over cover off Umesh Yadav was particularly breathtaking - and get out playing a shot that had kept getting him in trouble.

The first time he swept Sunil Narine, Brad Hogg dropped him at square leg. The second time, Umesh put down a dolly at short fine leg. Three balls later he tried again, left his stumps exposed, and missed an offbreak that clipped his leg bail.

Narine carrom ball still potent

In his two matches since being allowed to bowl again, Sunil Narine has used the offbreak sparingly, and when he does it usually lacks the bite and turn of its previous, contentious avatar. In getting used to his new action, he has also been susceptible to sending down the odd short ball. But his unique two-finger carrom ball continues to confound batsmen with its un-pickability and zip off the pitch.

The ball before Vijay's dismissal, Narine had ripped one past his outside edge. In his second spell of one over, he dismissed Manan Vohra with another one that left the right-hander, hurrying through and causing him to hit his attempted pull straight back to the bowler.

Narine struck again, twice, in his last over, and while the ball that dismissed Maxwell could be termed a long-hop, it turned away and bounced more than the batsman expected, leaving him dragging the ball from too far outside off stump to be completely safe.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo