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Kings XI Punjab continue winning run with solid performance against Kolkata Knight Riders

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The Kings XI Punjab continue to dominate season 7 of the Indian Premier League, picking up their fourth win on the trot in the competition with a 23 run victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders. For once though it was the bowlers who were the stars of the show today on a sluggish pitch with the Punjab team working well as a unit to bowl KKR out for just 109 after the former champions had restricted Kings XI to just 132-9 in their 20 overs.

KKR won the toss and unsurprisingly but Kings XI in to bat considering the last match on this pitch had seen the team batting first (RCB) bowled out for just 70. There was to be no repeat performance this time around though with Kings XI Punjab racing away to 51-2 in the powerplay with Virender Sehwag and Glenn Maxwell occupying the crease after Cheteshwar Pujara had been run out for 8 and Wriddhiman Saha had fallen leg before to Jacques Kallis for 14.

Maxwell continued to look in imperious form, but registered his first failure of the tournament when he was bowled for 15 by Morne Morkel as the pace of the South African quickie proved to much for 'The Big Show' as he walked across his stumps only to see his leg stump cartwheeling nearly half way to the boundary.

From that stage on the tide turned rapidly in KKR's favour with the Kolkata spin twins Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine taking 6 wickets for 33 runs in a 7 over spell between them after Narine had gone for 14 in his opening over. Narine took three wickets in an over, narrowly missing out on a hat-trick, while Chawla got the big wicket of Sehwag, bowled by a googly for 37, the highest score in the match.

Some intelligent batting by allrounder Rishi Dhawan ensured that Punjab batted out their overs though with his 19 runs proving crucial in the final analysis.

Kings XI though showed that they are more than just a run machine, with their bowling coming good on this occasion. Sandeep Sharma, who was drafted in for this game, swung the new ball and was rewarded with the wickets of Manish Pandey (8) and Gautam Gambhir (1). The beleaguered KKR skipper finally got off the mark in the IPL, but didn't get any more runs as he was caught driving to mid-off.

Punjab bowled really well as a team, and kept runs tight, forcing Kolkata to play some extravagant strokes that led to their own downfall. Kallis (9), Chris Lynn (13) and Robin Uthappa (19) all got starts, but didn't really excite the scorers with their strike rates.

Yusuf Pathan came and went for 3, and while Surya Kumar Yadav continued to be the find of the season for Kolkata, making 34 from just 17 balls, he was waging a lone war out in the middle with the rest of his teammates deserting him.

Akshar Patel 2-16, Mitchell Johnson 2-22, Laxmipathy Balaji 1-21 and Rishi Dhawan 1-24 all returned with excellent figures, to support man of the match Sandeep Sharma, who finished with 3-21 from his 4 overs to walk away with the match ball.

It's 4 from 4 for Punjab thus far, who look like the team to beat this season, while Kolkata have now slipped to a 2 and 2 record and need to decide whether they need to persist with their out of form skipper and Yusuf Pathan, or ring in some changes of their own and bring in players like Manvinder Bisla and reorganize their batting order for the games to come.

Mini Scorecard:

Kings XI Punjab 132-9 (20 overs, 6.6rpo)

V Sehwag 37 (30) P Chawla 3-19 (4)

R Dhawan 19* (18) S Narine 3-24 (4)

Kolkata Knight Riders 109 all out (18.2 overs, 5.94rpo)

S Yadav 34 (17) S Sharma 3-21 (4)

R Uthappa 19 (27) A Patel 2-16 (4)

Kings XI Punjab win by 23 runs