In the battle of consistency and unpredictability, consistency won again as the Kolkata KnightRiders beat Kings XI Punjab by 7 runs. The match had a different undertone throughout. What the scoreboard said was not actually correct. The scoreboard said that the opening partnership was worth a 101 runs for KKR but the truth was that the openers never really got any momentum in the innings. They added 101 runs for the 1st wicket but needed more than 13 overs to do so. Throughout the innings, the KKR batsmen were hovering around 7 to 8 runs an over and continued in same fashion till the end of 20th over. With all the big hitters yet to come, KKR would have expected a score of close to 190-200 but they ended at just par 164 for 3 with the 3rd wicket coming off the last ball of the innings.
Punjab bowlers had quietly done the job. Andre Russell and Yousuf Pathan were together in the later part of the innings but could not get a real move on.
The pitch was not really hard to bat on.With a score of 165 to chase, Punjab was well within a chance to upset the KKR at their fortress, the Eden Gardens.
As Punjab has displayed throughout this season, they were at their disastrous best losing 3 wickets in the first 3.1 overs for just 13 runs on the board.
The match looked all but over for them. But with Maxwell and Miller waiting in the wings, miracles are just round the corner.
Punjab fans hoped that this would be the day. To an extent it was. Maxwell and Saha stopped the fall of wickets and scored at a brisk pace. Specially Saha looked aggressive and in good touch, unveiling some beautiful shots for boundaries. Maxwell struggled to get his timing right initially but came into his own after a while at the crease. They added 40 in about 5 overs before Saha was bowled off an inside edge off the bowling of Piyush Chawla. Miller joined Maxwell and the Big Show continued.
Maxwell played some trademark shots to race to 68 off just 42 balls with 8 fours and 4 huge sixes before being adjudged lbw while attempting an over ambitious reverse sweep to Piyush Chawla.
By that time, Punjab was well within the match with 45 needed off 4 overs and Killer Miller at the crease. Miller was not in his elements though. He was not timing the ball at all and finally walked back after scoring 13 off 18 balls. The match was going beyond Punjab with 34 required off 14 balls when Axar Patel took strike for the first time. Next 2 balls flew across the ropes and the 3rd ball he faced reached the boundary one bounce. Patel was 16 off just 3 balls and Punjab now needed 17 from 10 which was reduced to 12 required off the last over.
Andre Russell was to bowl the last over and had figures of 16 for 3 off 3 overs.
He produced a magical last over, giving away just 4 runs and accounting for 3 wickets in the over (2 run outs and 1 lbw) to hand over the match to the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Punjab promised again to deceive and can be considered literally out of the race for playoffs with just 2 wins from 8 matches. They would need to win all their remaining 6 matches to qualify now. Looking at their performance till now, it seems highly unlikely, but cricket has seen funnier things happening. KKR look a balanced side and almost look certain for a place in the playoffs.