Andre Russell’s unbeaten 70 off 31 balls steered the Kolkata Knight Riders to a six-wicket win over the Punjab Kings in the IPL on Friday.
Punjab were limited to 137 before Russell’s power-hitting – with eight sixes and two fours – turned the game after Kolkata looked in trouble after losing early wickets.
Punjab removed both Kolkata openers – Ajinkya Rahane (12 off 11 balls) and Venkatesh Iyer (three off seven) – in defence of their below-par score.
Indian leg-spinner Rahul Chahar bowled a double-wicket maiden in the seventh over of the match to reduce Kolkata to 51-4.
He took the wickets of Shreyas Iyer (26 off 15) and Nitish Rana (two-ball duck) to raise Punjab’s hopes.
Chahar ended his four overs with 2-13 as Punjab’s most impressive bowler in the game.
But Russell and Sam Billings, who scored an unbeaten 24 off 23 balls, ended all hopes with their match-turning partnership.
“Simply outstanding hitting – it was Russell muscle, for serious,” winning captain Shreyas Iyer said after the match.
West Indian all-rounder Odean Smith was the most expensive Punjab bowler and took 1-39 in his two overs. Smith was hit for four sixes and a boundary in one chase-defining over.
Earlier, Man of the Match Umesh Yadav (4-23) gave his team a great start after taking Punjab captain Mayank Agarwal’s wicket for one in the game’s first over.
Punjab batsmen found it hard to handle Yadav’s pace and accurate lines.
Liam Livingstone (19 off 16 balls), Harpreet Brar (14 off 18) and Rahul Chahar (two-ball duck) were Yadav’s other three scalps.
Punjab lost wickets throughout their innings and couldn’t stitch a partnership on a batting-friendly pitch.
Yadav was ably assisted by New Zealand veteran Tim Southee, who took 2-36 in his four overs.
Kolkata spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine bowled tight lines and only gave 37 runs for a wicket in eight overs between them.
Sri Lankan hitter Bhanuka Rajapaksha and Proteas pacer Kagiso Rabada top-scored for Punjab with 31 off nine balls and a 16-ball 25 respectively.
Hard-hitting Smith remained unbeaten on nine off 12 balls as Agarwal’s side were bowled out in the 19th over.
“We didn’t bat well enough,” Agarwal said after his team’s loss. “We showed some real fight with the ball initially but then Russell came in and got going. Credit to him for that,” he added.
© Agence France-Presse