IPL 2021: KKR hold nerve to beat Punjab by five wickets
Morgan returned to form with an impressive, unbeaten 47 off 40 balls
With repeated batting failures pushing the Kolkata Knight Riders to the wall, Eoin Morgan’s men were determined to throw off the shackles of the past fiascos when they locked horns with the Punjab Kings in their IPL encounter at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
And the Knight Riders bowlers rose to the occasion after captain Morgan won the toss and put Punjab in on Monday as Prasidh Krishna (3/30) led the charge, restricting the opponents to a paltry score of 123 for nine.
But what looked like a straightforward chase turned chaotic after the Knights lost their first three wickets – Nitish Rana (0), Shubman Gill (9), Sunil Narine (0) -- for only 17 runs in the first three overs.
Then a fearless counterattack from Morgan (47 not out, 40 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) and Rahul Tripathi (41, 32 balls, 7 fours) and the dew factor that made it hard for the bowlers to grip the ball, saw the Punjab Kings’ chances slip away.
For a team that lost four matches on the trot after an impressive win in their opening match against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Knight Riders held their nerve to complete a five-wicket win.
The Knights faced an anxious wait for victory, though, after Tripathi fell in the 11th over, having shared a 66-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Morgan.
Andre Russell’s (10) run out in the 15th over with the KKR still needing 26 off 35 balls did give Punjab a glimmer of hope.
But the veteran Dinesh Karthik (12 not out, 6 balls, 2 fours) remained nice and steady to take the team home with 20 balls to spare.
It was also a welcome return to form for Morgan, the England World Cup-winning captain, who surpassed his combined score of 45 from five previous innings this season with an unbeaten 47 on Monday night.
Morgan’s failure in the middle-order was the biggest concern for the KKR going into Monday’s clash with the Punjab Kings.
But the 34-year-old left-hander rediscovered his touch as he found a partner in Tripathi who wasn’t afraid of going for his shots despite the team enduring three early blows.
“Today our performance was really, really impressive, especially from our bowlers and the way we started and kept the pressure throughout,” said Morgan whose team jumped to the fifth position in the points table after Monday’s victory.
Earlier, a brilliant bowling performance from the Kolkata Knight Riders restricted Punjab Kings to 123 for nine.
After being put into bat, the Punjab Kings’ batting order collapsed despite an impressive start from their openers KL Rahul (19, 20 balls 2 fours, 1 six) and Mayank Agarwal (31, 34 balls, 1 four, 2 sixes).
The two batsmen shared 36 runs for the opening wicket in 5.4 overs, but Rahul’s dismissal sparked a Punjab batting collapse.
Young pace bowler Krishna (3/30) was the most successful bowler, but others also made a big impact.
Shivam Mavi (1/13), Pat Cummins (2/31), Sunil Narine (2/22) and Varun Chakravarthy (1/24) had the Punjab Kings batsmen on a tight leash.
If not for a late-order cameo from Chris Jordan (30, 18 balls, 1 four, 3 sixes), the Punjab Kings would have even struggled to reach the 100-mark in their innings.
“It was a poor performance from us. We should have adapted better on a new pitch, we could have applied a lot more with the bat and get that extra 20-30 runs,” Punjab captain Rahul admitted.
“The wicket was a bit low and slow, but 120-130 was not enough.”
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