Captain K.L. Rahul’s marvelous half-century and Shahrukh Khan’s sensational cameo enabled Punjab Kings to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in a tense chase and stay alive in the Indian Premier League.
KKR, asked to bat first, rode on its new-found sensation Venkatesh Iyer’s best IPL score, a 49-ball 67, to post a challenging 165 for seven at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday. PBKS achieved the target with three balls to spare.
The left-handed Venkatesh, who flicked left-arm spinner Fabien Allen for a four in the first ball of the match, had an updated field-map in his brain as he picked the deliveries well and used his supple wrists to place the ball intelligently in the gaps.
After the fall of his opening partner Shubman Gill, who was done in by a Arshdeep Singh delivery that moved in a bit from the surface, Venkatesh forged an important well-crafted 72-run stand with Rahul Tripathi to provide KKR a sound platform.
Punjab’s trump card Ravi Bishnoi broke the partnership by having Tripathi, who executed some attractive strokes on both sides in his 26-ball 34, caught on the on-side.
Iyer, who played a pulled six and a scooped four in a bouquet of spectacular shots, batted maturely to reach his second IPL half-century before pulling Bishnoi to deep mid-wicket in the 15th over.
Nitish Rana scored a 17-ball 31 and KKR collected 44 in the last five even as Arshdeep and Shami displayed another impressive performance.
Mayank Agarwal and Rahul batted maturely to gather 70 runs and give PBKS a fine start. Mayank, who hit three fours and as many sixes in his 27-ball 40, was held at cover by Eoin Morgan, who had dropped the PBKS opener at the same position on zero, off Varun Chakravarthy.
Chakravarthy struck again to remove Nicholas Pooran and mount pressure on PBKS.
On a slow pitch, Rahul batted with composure to score a valuable 67 off 55 and take the chase deep. He was dismissed in the last over but his team managed to cross the line. KKR skipper Morgan, who fielded four full-time bowlers after dropping an unfit Lockie Ferguson, missed a fifth bowler.
Shahrukh Khan’s knock was an invaluable contribution for Punjab as it notched up two points to climb onto the fifth spot on the points table.