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Kolkata Knight Riders snaps losing streak

Amitabha Das Sharma
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Bisla, first with Jacques Kallis and then with Eoin Morgan, ensures that the host suffers no hiccups

IMPACT PLAYER:Jacques Kallis turned in an all-round performance to help Kolkata Knight Riders notch up a much-needed win at the Eden Gardens on Friday.— PHOTO: PTI
IMPACT PLAYER:Jacques Kallis turned in an all-round performance to help Kolkata Knight Riders notch up a much-needed win at the Eden Gardens on Friday.— PHOTO: PTI

Kolkata Knight Riders plucked a win just when their closet seemed to be overstocked with losses. After three successive losses the defending champion returned to winning form defeating Kings XI Punjab by six wickets in a Pepsi IPL VI fixture here at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Manvinder Bisla, undefeated on 51, carried the yoke of the host’s reply returning to the side after begin dropped for the last two matches. Eoin Morgan (42) and Jacques Kallis (37) were the other two who helped the Knights get past the target of 150.

KXIP bowler Azhar Mahmood pegged back the host as he picked two quick wickets but KKR recovered well to snatch a well-deserved win.

Mahmood, bowling his first and the team’s second over, cleaned up the KKR captain Gautam Gambhir just as the left-hander looked to open up. He picked up Yusuf Pathan off the next delivery as the Knights stared at another batting collapse.

Kallis and Bisla then got together to resurrect the innings. The two did well and pulled out a 66-run partnership from 9.1 overs. While Kallis hit six boundaries in his 33-ball 37, Bisla provided good assistance hitting a couple of sixes.

Just when the KKR reply appeared to solidify Kallis tried a half-hearted steer and edged it behind as KXIP brought in Harmeet Singh to break the partnership.

Eoin Morgan then joined Bisla to build on the previous stand.

Morgan’s restlessness in the middle came good as the young England batsman helped the host break free from shackles and put on 72 with Bisla.

Morgan made the most of a life — he was dropped on 29 at the mid-wicket boundary by Bharghav Bhat — to haul KKR’s run chase close to the finish line.

When he departed the host needed just two runs.

Earlier, Kings XI Punjab scored a challenging 149 for six after opting to bat.

The visitor saw decent contributions from most of its batsmen, which helped it reach the fighting total even as the home side tried to bowl a disciplined line. The total could have been much less but for L. Balaji conceding 18 in the last over.

Openers Adam Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh provided a good start. Gilchrist, who has not had a good tournament so far, found it difficult to time the ball initially but hung on and with some occasional boundaries pushed ahead the team’s score. Gilchrist’s 27 is his highest for the season and complemented Mandeep (25) who was the more expressive of the two.

Manan Vohra (31) and Gukeerat Singh (28) took over later as the KXIP saw its homebred talent fetching most of the runs.

KKR utilised six bowlers within the first 10 overs looking to unsettle the visitor’s batting. Bothered by some tentative bowling in the team’s previous outings, Gambhir utilised his full array of bowlers.

Kallis, who was retained in the side dispelling injury worries, was the most economical bowler. He got the breakthrough off his very first delivery when the aggressive Mandeep mistimed a pull and was caught at mid-wicket by Morgan.

This happened just after the visitor had breezed through the first six overs of power-play scoring 45 runs without losing a wicket.

Kallis kept his medium pace in the right zone and curtailed KXIP from breaking free. He finished with two wickets.

Sunil Narine, the Purple Cap owner, and the pick of the KKR bowlers, went wicket-less for the first time this season.

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