PBKS keep qualification hopes alive with scrappy win
KL Rahul anchored Punjab Kings’ chase of 167 with a 55-ball 67 but it took a cameo from the returning Shahrukh Khan, who hit 22 from 9 balls, to help Punjab edge past Kolkata Knight Riders in a scrappy affair at the Dubai International Stadium. PBKS’ victory, with three balls to spare, kept them in the hunt for a Playoffs berth.
The Kings’ victory, though, had much to do with their excellent bowling performance from their Indian troika of Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh and Ravi Bishnoi who took combined figures of 6 for 77 between them to rein in KKR after a fast start.
Venkatesh Iyer steps up again
KKR lost Shubman Gill early after being put in to bat, had a fairly uneventful PowerPlay thereafter and still ended up scoring 48/1 from it. Bookending the first-six overs were two productive overs, bowled by Fabian Allen and Nathan Ellis, that featured a pair of crisply-timed boundaries each by Venkatesh Iyer.
The tall left-hander continued to turn heads with his shot making even after the field spread out, playing a swivel-pull off Allen and then late-cutting a Bishnoi wrong un’ past short third-man. Rahul Tripathi was an able partner and when he hit Ellis behind point for a couple of fours, KKR had 88/1 at the end of 11 overs, with this pair having added 70 fuss-free runs.
Kings’ Indian bowlers come to the fore
Between Ellis and Allen, the foreign bowlers in PBKS’ line-up conceded 85 from eight overs and took no wickets. As it turned out their Indian trio of Bishnoi, Arshdeep and Shami more than made up for it with their disciplines.
The legspinner Bishnoi, dropped earlier in this UAE leg, struck in this third over to end the 72-run stand with a googly that Tripathi mistimed to long on. He added the wicket of Iyer (67 off 49) in his fourth over to finish with figures of 2 for 22.
Those two dismissals exposed the soft underbelly of KKR’s batting as Eoin Morgan, debutant Tim Seifert and Dinesh Karthik were reined in by Shami and Arshdeep, with the pair displaying excellent death bowling skills and not conceding a single boundary in the last 15 balls of the innings.
That KKR even got to 165 was down to a crucial cameo from Nitish Rana, who hit two sixes and two fours in an 18-ball 31.
The chase: Punjab’s positive start
Venkatesh, in the mid-innings break, explained that KKR’s drop-off in the second half of the innings was a function of a pitch that had slowed down and made hitting the old ball difficult. To that extent, PBKS set themselves up for a good finish by hitting 76 in the first 10. Mayank Agarwal, who was reprieved off the first ball he faced, scored 40 off 27 before falling to Varun Chakravarthy. The India spinner had another solid outing with the ball and added the wicket of Nicholas Pooran to finish with figures of 2 for 24.
Those two dismissals and a wobbly middle-order to follow meant, Rahul had to drop anchor and bat deep.
The KKR captain had scores of 7,8 and 0 in this UAE leg. Today he made 2 before missing a full and straight delivery from Shami. His bad day was exacerbated in the second innings when he put down a straight forward chance to reprieve Mayank Agarwal.
There were also question marks over his team selection. He replaced Lockie Ferguson (suspected niggle) with Tim Seifert, leaving KKR with having to split four overs between Venkatesh and Nitish Rana. The pair conceded 37 runs from 21 balls that decisively turned the match in PBKS’s favour.
KKR’s questionable fielding
KKR’s spinners, Varun CV and Sunil Narine did well to poke at PBKS’s chasing insecurities. But they would have done well with a little more support from their fielders. Tripathi dropped Pooran at extra cover, Karthik misjudged a catch off Rahul. Even in the 20th over, Tripathi had a chance to put further pressure on Punjab if he’d caught Shahrukh but he could only palm it over the ropes for a six which sailed over the ropes for PBKS’ winning runs.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 165/7 in 20 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 67, Rahul Tripathi 34; Arshdeep Singh 3-34, Ravi Bishnoi 2-22) lost to Punjab Kings 168/5 in 19.3 overs (KL Rahul 67, Mayank Agarwal 40; Varun CV 2-24) by five wickets.
What’s next for the teams:
Punjab Kings have less than 48 hours for their next game. They head across to the slow and low Sharjah for a clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday (October 3) afternoon. KKR play the evening game on the same day in Dubai, against the already knocked-out Sunrisers Hyderabad.