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Kolkata return to winning ways with easy thumping of Punjab

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The Kolkata Knight Riders finally ended their 3 game losing streak and got their season back on track with a crucial 6 wicket win against the Kings XI Punjab at the Eden Gardens on Friday night. The Kings XI posted an under par 149-6 on the board with everyone in their top order making starts, but no one going on to make a telling contribution. Jacques Kallis was outstanding with the ball, taking 2-14 from his 4 overs.

The Kings XI Punjab made a fist of it at the start, landing two crucial early blows in the run chase, but a welcome return to form for Manvinder Bisla (51), and some excellent and highly contrasting contributions from Jacques Kallis and Eoin Morgan, saw KKR over the line with nearly 2 overs to spare.

Punjab Skipper Adam Gilchrist won the toss (and the vote of his team-mates to play the game) and elected to bat first. The Kolkata Knight Riders decided to stick on with Jacques Kallis, leaving no place for either Brendon McCullum or Ryan ten Doeschate. KKR did make two changes though; with leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda coming into the squad to replace Iqbal Abdulla, while Manvinder Bisla returned to take over the gloves with Manoj Tiwary missing out.

Kings XI Punjab made a couple of changes from their previous game against the Delhi Daredevils, bringing in all-rounder Azhar Mahmood for Australian batsman Luke Pomersbach while seamer Parvinder Awana made way for Gurkeerat Singh. Shaun Marsh missed out again due to injury for the Kings XI.

The Kings XI got off to a good start, posting 45 in their powerplay without the loss of a wicket as Adam Gilchrist finally found some form, while Mandeep Singh continued his solid run. Singh though fell on the first ball after the powerplay to Jacques Kallis for 25.

The top order of the Kings XI all got into double figures, but unfortunately for KXIP no one went on to make a telling contribution. Gilchrist fell for a run a ball 27 to the medium pace of Rajat Bhatia, while Manan Vohra top scored with a brisk 31 from 21 balls.

An unbeaten 28 from 15 balls from Gurkeerat Singh gave the Punjab innings a little bit of a late impetus, and helped them post a decent 149-6 on the board. Crucially for KXIP, they did not concede any wickets to Sunil Narine, and that made the difference between giving their bowlers something to work with, and a blow out.

The Knight Riders got off to a poor start, losing Gautam Gambhir (8) and one down Yusuf Pathan (0) to successive deliveries in Azhar Mahmood's first over. Manvinder Bisla, who returned to the top of the order, found an able partner in Jacques Kallis and the duo played some sensible cricket to bat their side out of a hole.

Kallis contributed a steady 37 before tickling a Harmeet Singh delivery to Adam Gilchrist behind the stumps. Eoin Morgan then came out and played an innings tailor-made for the situation, smashing 42 from just 25 balls to see KKR to within a hit of victory.

Morgan became Mahmood's third victim trying to hit the winning runs, but Bisla carried his bat through making a very welcome 51 to see his side to victory with 10 balls to spare.

The Kings XI Punjab will be back in action on Monday as they continue their road trip, next heading to another tough destination - Mumbai - where they take on the Indians. KKR meanwhile have a tough road trip of their own to look forward to on Sunday, taking on the Super Kings in Chennai.

Teams:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Manvinder Bisla (wk), Gautam Gambhir (c), Yusuf Pathan, Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Debabrata Das , Rajat Bhatia, Sarabjit Ladda , Sachithra Senanayake , Sunil Narine, Lakshmipathy Balaji.

Kings XI Punjab : Adam Gilchrist (c & wk) , Mandeep Singh, Azhar Mahmood,  David Miller, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh Bansal, Bhargav Bhatt, Gurkeerat Singh.

Mini Scorecard:

Kings XI Punjab 149-6 (20 overs, 7.45rpo)

M Vohra 31 (21) J Kallis 2-14

G Singh 28 (15) R Bhatia 1-17

Kolkata Knight Riders 150-4 (18.2 overs, 8.18rpo)

M Bisla 50* (42) A Mahmood 3-35

E Morgan 42 (25) H Singh 1-24

KKR win by 6 wickets with 10 balls to spare