ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Kolkata Knight Riders pulled off a sensational two-run win against scrappy Kings XI Punjab, and Royal Challengers Bangalore tamed Chennai Super Kings by 37 runs in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
Virat Kohli led Bangalore to 169-4 with an entertaining unbeaten 90 off 52 balls in Dubai.
South Africa’s Chris Morris, playing his first game this season, then rolled over Chennai’s power hitters in the death overs with figures of 3-19. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team yet again fell short, at 132-8.
“Batting has been a bit of a worry,” Dhoni conceded. He scored only 10 before holing out in the deep.
“We are better off playing the other way round, playing the bigger shots even if you get out. That is something we can do in the coming games.”
Kohli singlehandedly took charge after Chennai restricted Bangalore to 93-4 in the 15th over.
Kohli hit four boundaries and four sixes and, together with Shivam Dube (22 not out), added 76 runs off the last 33 balls.
Fast bowlers Shardul Thakur (2-40) and Sam Curran (1-48) couldn’t stem the flow of runs as Kohli played his trademark cover drives and pull shots.
Chennai never looked to threaten Bangalore’s total once it lost the experienced Shane Watson (14) and Faf du Plessis (8) in the powerplay.
Ambati Rayudu labored for 40 deliveries to top score with 42 as Morris grabbed the wickets of the hard-hitting Curran, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo cheaply in his return spell.
Chennai has only two wins in seven games, while Bangalore is comfortably in the top half of the table.
In Abu Dhabi, Punjab needed six runs for a tie off Sunil Narine’s last ball, and Glenn Maxwell’s hit over the covers just landed inside the boundary. Punjab fell two runs short at 162-5.
Kolkata had earlier recovered well from a slow start through captain Dinesh Karthik’s flashy 29-ball knock of 58 runs to post 164-6.
Punjab was cruising at 136-1, needing just 29 runs off the last four overs. But Kolkata stormed back as fast bowler Prasidh Krishna took 3-29 and Narine 2-28 to hand Punjab its fifth consecutive loss.
“Prasidh is special, the way he came back and bowled in the second spell,” Karthik said.
“Sunil Narine stands up for us a lot of the time. He is calm, he is always looking to find the best way to contribute to the team.”
Halfway through the league stage, Punjab has only a solitary victory from seven games and is at the bottom of the table. Kolkata is in the upper half.
Captain Lokesh Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, who made 56, gave Punjab a solid start of 114 runs but once Krishna provided the opening in the 15th over by dismissing Agarwal, Punjab’s brittle top-order lineup yet again slipped against quality bowling.
Krishna took the game away from Punjab in the 19th over by claiming two wickets, including the crucial dismissal of Rahul, who top-scored with 74 off 58 balls after getting dropped in only the second over by Andre Russell.
“I have no answers,” said Rahul, who has been the lone batting star for Punjab with three half-centuries and a century.
Kolkata struggled to be 60-2 after 10 overs before Karthik ensured he had enough runs on the board to defend by hitting eight fours and two sixes.
Karthik dominated the 82-run, fourth-wicket stand with Shubman Gill, who made a defiant 57 off 47 balls before both were run out in the death overs.
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