Sunil Narine’s death bowling sealed an incredible comeback for Kolkata Knight Riders as they edged out IPL strugglers Kings XI Punjab by just two runs.
Kings XI seemed certain to end their run of four straight defeats when KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal shared a century opening partnership in pursuit of the 165 target – with just 29 needed from the last four overs.
But two tight overs from Narine and a flurry of wickets for Prasidh Krishna ensured KKR held their nerve – and Glenn Maxwell’s last-ball heave fell agonisingly short of the six that would have forced a Super Over.
The Knight Riders had been behind for most of the game, with captain Dinesh Karthik’s explosive 58 off 29 balls and Shubman Gill (57 off 47) enabling them to post 164-6 following a sluggish start.
Karthik’s decision to bat after winning the toss initially looked ill-advised as KKR slumped to 14-2, with Mohammed Shami (1-30) piercing the defence of Rahul Tripathi (4) to hit middle and leg.
Nitish Rana (2) then called Gill for what always looked an ambitious single, ending up stranded at the wrong end while Nicholas Pooran’s throw completed a shambolic run-out.
Eoin Morgan, moving up the order to bat at four, kept the scoreboard ticking over alongside Gill, but boundaries were a rarity – and it took the England white-ball captain until the 10th over to register the first maximum of the game.
Morgan (24 from 23) was out in the next over after the pair had added 49, caught at long-on after failing to pick the wrong ‘un from leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi (1-25).
However, Karthik injected some urgency into the Knight Riders’ innings, throwing the bat as he dominated the partnership of 82 from 43 deliveries and slammed Shami for successive boundaries to bring up his half-century.
Both Gill and his captain were eventually run out coming back for a second as Kings XI pulled it back with solid death overs from Arshdeep Singh (1-25) and Chris Jordan (0-37).
KKR might have inflicted a devastating blow in the second over of their opponents’ reply, with Andre Russell spilling Rahul off a skier to long-off – and then jarring his knee as he skidded into the boundary trying to claw back the loose ball.
The West Indies all-rounder did return to the field midway through the innings, but he was still limping and unable to contribute with the ball as the Kings XI openers took full control.
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Agarwal looked lively in the powerplay, driving Krishna for successive fours before smearing a six over cover as he and Rahul (74 from 58) kept up with the required run-rate without difficulty.
Rahul eventually triumphed in the race to 50, driving Pat Cummins for a boundary that also took the total into three figures, with his partner following suit later in the same over.
Although Agarwal departed for 56 off 39 balls, steering Krishna (3-29) into the hands of deep square leg, the in-form Pooran smashed a quick 16 – only to swing and miss against the wily Narine (2-28).
The pressure told on Kings XI as four wickets went down for 14 runs and, despite Maxwell’s desperate last-ball effort, the replay confirmed his shot off Narine had crossed the boundary on the bounce.
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