The Sri Lankan's 59-ball 110 guides the visitors to victory with 10 balls to spare
Kings XI Punjab found a new hero in Mahela Jayawardene whose magnificent unbeaten 110 annihilated Kolkata Knight Riders by eight wickets in the DLF IPL III league game at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.
The former Sri Lankan captain, who has found form rather late in the tournament, carried his team to 204 for two in 18.2 overs to fashion the comprehensive win.
KKR slumped to its fifth loss in nine matches while Kings XI won its second in nine games.
Superb cricketing shots, lovely improvisation and calculated risk by man of the match Jayawardene enabled the run flow with 14 fabulous boundaries and three sweetly timed sixes in a 59-ball innings. He was involved in two important partnerships — with Sangakkara (38), he put on 98 runs in 53 balls, and Yuvraj Singh (33 of 16 balls) joined Jayawardene to do the rest with an unbroken third wicket stand that produced 55 runs, to take the game away from Sourav Ganguly's team.
Opting to bat, KKR began fluently with captain Ganguly and Chris Gayle. The latter continued his form with exquisite strokeplay. He hit two delightful fours off Irfan Pathan in the first over and continued to dominate the play hitting five fours and a six off left-arm pacer Shalabh Sirivastava. The pair added 56 runs in 7.2 overs before Ganguly fell to a soft dismissal offering a tame return catch to Bopara after a well-made 36.
The seventh, eighth and ninth overs, bowled by Powar and Bopara produced a measly nine runs as KKR got to 69 for one in 10 overs.
Gayle then opened up the proceedings with a huge six of Powar in the 11th and hit Piyush Chawla for two successive fours in the next over to take 11 runs. Over No.13, bowled by Bopara, was the most productive as Gayle plundered four successive sixes — three over long-on and one over extra-cover — to not only bring up the team's 100 in 12.2 overs but also his half century off 30 balls. The over cost Kings 33 runs.
The Windies skipper again got into act in the 15th over bowled by Chawla, hitting the leg-spinner for two sixes to the delight of the full house and in the same over he was reprieved by the bowler who failed to pouch a skier. Gayle was on 80.
The brilliant innings came to an end when Gayle was taken by Bopara at long-on off Theron for 88 off 42 balls. The second wicket produced 101 runs in 8.2 overs in which Gayle along contributed 71.
Tiwary and Angelo Mathews failed to maintain the same tempo. Yet KKR reached 200 — the highest total at this venue before the visitors overhauled it — to set Kings XI a very competitive target.
KKR's made only one change bringing in left-hander Jaydev Unadkat for Mohnish Parmar. Brendon McCullum, who joined the team a few days back, did not get to start.
Kings XI brought in Mahela Jayawardene, Ramesh Powar and Juan Theron in place of an injured Shaun Marsh, Brett Lee and S. Sreesanth.
Kolkata Knight Riders: S. Ganguly c & b Bopara 36 (31b, 5x4, 1x6), C. Gayle c Bopara b Theron 88 (42b, 6x4, 8x6), M. Tiwary c sub b Pathan 35 (32b, 2x4), A. Mathews (not out) 17 (11b, 2x4), D. Hussey (not out) 11 (5b, 1x4, 1x6), Extras (lb-1, nb-1, w-11) 13; Total (for three in 20 overs) 200.
Fall of wickets: 1-56, 2-157, 3-182.
Kings XI Punjab bowling: Pathan 4-0-36-1, Powar 4-0-23-0, Shrivastava 3-0-35-0, Theron 4-0-36-1, Bopara 3-0-43-1, Chawla 2-0-26-0.
Kings XI Punjab: M. Bisla b Kartik 18 (13b, 3x4), M. Jayawardene (not out) 110 (59b, 14x4, 3x6), K. Sangakkara c Hussey b Bond 38 (22b, 2x4, 2x6), Y. Singh (not out) 33 (16b, 2x4, 3x6), Extras (lb-3, w-2) 5; Total (for two in 18.2 overs) 204.
Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-149.
Knight Riders bowling: Bond 4-0-32-1, Unadkat 2.2-0-32-0, Kartik 4-0-41-1, Gayle 1-0-16-0, Mathews 3-0-32-0, Agarkar 3-0-35-0, Hussey 1-0-13-0.