It was so near yet so far for Kings XI Punjab. Needing to hit a six off the final ball of the match to force a Super Over, Glenn Maxwell’s big shot landed agonisingly short of the boundary ropes by just a few inches as Kolkata Knight Riders edged past Kings XI Punjab by two runs on Saturday.
In one of the most thrilling matches of the thirteenth edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kolkata Knight Riders snatched victory from the jaws of defeat at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
After registering a nail-biting win against Chennai Super Kings in their previous outing, it was back-to-back come-from-behind victory for Kolkata Knight Riders in the competition. The two-time former champions are now at the third spot with eight points to their credit from six ties.
The fifth consecutive defeat meant it was all but over for KXIP this year. With just four points against their name from seven games, they are virtually out of reckoning for play-offs. Only a small technical chance and some magical display in rest of the matches can save them.
Chasing a target of 165, Kings XI Punjab were cruising along at 144 for 1 in 17 overs. They needed almost a run-a-ball to break the four-match losing sequence but they just could not do it.
The heroics of KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal went in vain. The KXIP skipper and in-form opener Agarwal put on 115 runs partnership for the first wicket.
Rahul and Agarwal were batting quite well with their side needing a win desperately. However, Agarwal perished after scoring 56, while Rahul was bowled for 74 while trying to smash a big one and was played on.
Their departure in quick succession changed the whole momentum of the game. With 20 runs needed off the 12 balls, seamer M Prasidh Krishna (3 for 29) displayed his death bowling skills and bowled a masterful penultimate over which yielded just 6 runs.
The 24th game of the season saw a thrilling end as Maxwell struck the last ball high and looked like going for a six which could have forced the Super Over. However, TV camera angles showed that the ball landed just inside the boundary line.
Sunil Narine, who bowled the tidy last over, scalped two to give able support to Prasidh Krishna.
In 2014 at Sharjah, KKR had beaten RCB by 2 runs. Another fewest winning margin for KKR was five runs when they had defeated the same opponent by five runs in the inaugural IPL edition at Kolkata.
Earlier, opting to bat first, KKR did not have a sound beginning as they lost a couple of early wickets. Last-match hero Rahul Tripathi (4) was sent back to the pavilion by pacer Mohammed Shami in the third over while Nitish Rana (2) was run out after a bad mix up with Shubman Gill. Both were caught at the same end of the crease.
Eoin Morgan had a 49-run stand for the third wicket with Gill. Leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi grabbed the third wicket of Morgan (24), who was trying to go over the short boundary but was caught at long-on by Maxwell.
Then KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik ended his average scores so far with a sensational knock to turn the match on its head. Karthik and Gill batted aggressively and added 82 runs from 51 balls. Gill (57) logged his sixth IPL half-century before getting run out.
Andre Russell departed after scoring just five. Karthik, who was run out on the last ball of the innings, played a captain’s knock of 58 off just 29 balls with the help of eight boundaries and two sixes.
Kolkata Knight Riders 164 for 6 in 20 overs (Dinesh Karthik 58, Shubman Gill 57, Eoin Morgan 24; Ravi Bishnoi 1-25, Arshdeep Singh 1-25, Mohammed Shami 1-30) beat Kings XI Punjab 162 for 5 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 74, Mayank Agarwal 56, Nicholas Pooran 16, Glenn Maxwell 10; M Prasidh Krishna 3-29, Sunil Narine 2-28) by 2 runs.
Man-of-the-match: Dinesh Karthik (Kolkata Knight Riders).