DUBAI: Punjab Kings upped their chances of making it to the IPL play-offs with a five wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders as effective death over bowling and smart batting by skipper KL Rahul and Shahrukh Khan secure their pivotal Indian Premier League win formed on Friday.
Rahul scored 67 runs off 55 balls and split a 70-run tie with fellow opener Mayank Agarwal (40), beating a 166-run goal with three balls left.
Scorecard | As it happened | Points table
Shahrukh produced an impactful 9-ball 22-run knock when it mattered, finishing the game with a six.
Venkatesh Iyer hit a smooth 67 while Nitish Rana produced a fiery 31 from 18 balls before Punjab Kings managed to stop KKR at 165 for seven.
Invited to bat, the in-form KKR batsmen controlled the proceedings for much of their innings and had it not been an excellent death by spells from Mohammed Shami (1/23) and Arshdeep Singh (3/32), would KKR got a bigger score on the board.
Iyer and Rahul Tripathi (34 from 26 balls) lifted a 72-run stance and stroked the ball with ease, while Rana’s cameo was also crucial for KKR, as the run rate had taken a hit at that point after two quick wickets.
The Punjab batters didn’t set the field on fire at the start of the chase, as they managed only 46 runs in power play, but didn’t lose a wicket.
Of the two batters, it was Agarwal who hit the ball with good hitting speed while Rahul was doing a run-a-ball.
Varun Chakravarthy separated the openers by letting Agarwal catch Eoin Morgan on extra cover, although it was a bright shot.
Nicholas Pooran (12) was dropped on 1 by Tripathi in the same region, but Chakravarthy made sure it wasn’t a costly miss when he fired the West Indian shortly after.
The dew made it difficult for the bowlers to get hold of the ball, but the Punjab batters were still happy to work the ball around and get an oddly large shot in between.
Rahul increased his half-century with such a shot from a slower from Southee as he cleared the square leg area.
KKR needed 45 runs from the last five overs. Aiden Markram (18) hit a massive six on Sunil Narine, but was caught in the same over, while Deepak Hooda (3) was also soon killed.
Rahul appeared to have hit one straight at the fielder, but the third umpire didn’t rule him out. He got out in the first ball of the final, but Shahrukh finished the job calming a nervous dugout.
PBKS moved to fifth in the table with 10 points, while KKR remained in fourth with the same number of points
Previously, the left-arm pacer Arshdeep has been a top performer for Punjab this season and he delivered again by clearing Shubhman Gill (7) with a peach of the delivery that broke through the batsman’s defense in the third over.
Iyer, who has been a revelation this season, continued his good run with some smooth drives on both sides of the wicket, despite the ball stopping a bit before hitting the bat.
The positive approach from the batsmen and the lack of control of the line by the Punjab pacers kept the run rate going up for KKR.
The partnership was eventually broken by spinner Ravi Bishnoi, who had Tripathi caught in the deep end. The leg spinner was also frugal, finishing with figures of two for 22 in four overs.
Iyer completed his fifty with a single off Allen, then lofted to the West Indian bowler for a six to raise the team’s hundred in the 13th over.
Two quick wickets fell as Bishnoi got rid of Iyer, who went for a big shot, and Shami trapped rival skipper Eoin Morgan (2), who shuffled slightly outwards but missed the line of the dipping ball that put him in front caught the wicket.