Andre Russell picked up 4-20 as Kings XI Punjab fell seven runs short of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ 164-3.
This was despite the efforts of Glenn Maxwell, who smashed four sixes in a 42-ball 68. It was a disappointing evening for David Miller, however, who produced a scratchy 13 off 18 balls.
KKR, after losing two on the trot before winning their last match in a thriller against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, were looking to make it back-to-back victories in what was the beginning of a run of four straight matches at home. They lost the toss, though, and were sent into bat.
It was a slow but steady start from the KKR openers, as the experienced Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa scored 40 runs off the power play overs, before going to a sluggish 68 off nine overs.
They unleashed from there as Gambhir brought up his fourth fifty of the season to go second in the run-charts behind Virat Kohli, and Uthappa gathered momentum too as he scored 70, but both were run out in unfortunate circumstances at the non-strikers’ end.
That allowed the likes of Yusuf Pathan (19) and Andre Russell (16), the heroes from their victory over RCB, to let loose and give their side something to work with.
The men from Punjab, stranded at the bottom of the standings with just two victories in the campaign, got off to a disastrous start with three wickets falling in 19 balls. Murali Vijay, the new captain after Miller was relieved of his duties, scored six, while there were ducks for Manan Vohra and Marcus Stoinis.
A 40-run partnership then followed between Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha, but Saha fell for 24 as the required run rate approached 10 an over.
Maxwell pushed on and gathered momentum with a series of big sixes, but Miller was left stranded at the other end and couldn’t get going when he was on strike. Maxwell fell for 68 and Miller then departed for a sluggish 13.
Axar Patel hit 16 runs off his first three balls to give Kings XI some hope, but Russell’s brilliant bowling and composure at the death saw KKR edge to victory to move to the top of the standings.