KKR moves back into top-four with comeback win

Kolkata Knight Riders returned to winning ways and moved into the playoff positions on the points table with a strong performance against Kings XI Punjab, which it beat by 31 runs.

The jubilant Kolkata Knight Riders players congratulate each other after completing a convincing win over Kings XI Punjab.   -  AFP

When Kings XI Punjab’s coach Brad Hodge talked of creating history on the eve of the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, he may not have thought that his team would be at the receiving end of it. 

He was hoping that the KXIP men, if they won the toss, would bowl first and then chase down a record target – if it came down to that -- and make IPL history at the Holkar Cricket Stadium. 

They won the toss alright. But that was about the only thing they got right on this hot day.

A day that Sunil Narine will not forget in a hurry.

As it happened

And it was also a memorable day for KKR, as it posted a badly-needed victory – by 31 runs – to stay in contention for a place in the playoff. Thanks in no small measure to Narine, it has now 12 points, the same as KXIP, which, however, has played a game less. 

Narine cracked a 36-ball 75 to power KKR to its biggest ever total in the IPL – 245 for six. He wasn’t done day for the yet, however.

When KXIP began its chase of a total that had never been surpassed before in the IPL, its best hope was a surreal innings from classy opener K.L. Rahul; from his last two innings he had made 179 elegant runs without being dismissed.

Another big knock looked on the cards. In the opening over, he stepped out off successive balls to hit Narine to clear the off side, giving the pinch-hitting off-spinner a taste of his own medicine. A little later, he smashed Javon Searless for a straight six that would have done Sachin Tendulkar proud. 

But, in his second spell, Narine had his revenge. With his carrom ball, he had Rahul (66, 29b) bowled, trying to sweep.

It was all over more for the host. Andre Russell had used his bouncers intelligently to dismiss fellow-Jamaican Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal off consecutive balls before having Karun Nair caught at long-on. 

Earlier, Russell, promoted up the order, had slammed 31 off 14 balls to help KKR post what was not just the biggest total of this IPL but almost certainly a winning one as well, making use of a flat track and relatively short boundaries. It was also the fifth highest score ever.

The foundation was laid out by Narine and Chris Lynn, who put on 53 in 5.2 overs. Captain Karthik also contributed handsomely with 50 off just 23 balls.

Narine though had a given a tough chance early on though, but Mujeeb Ur Rahman not only failed to hold on to the sharp chance off his own bowling. The in-form Afghan spinner was also injured in the process and had to end his over abruptly. 

So on came Ashwin, whose first ball was sweetly timed for a six over long-on by Narine. 

The Narine show was underway.

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