On a batting surface, a costly error from Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) helped Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) thump them by 28 runs. Opting to bowl first, the Ravichandran Ashwin-led Punjab unit gifted too many freebies to Kolkata and watched helplessly as Andre Russell, offered a life by an error from Punjab, slammed them in the death overs. With 219 to chase down, Kings XI were never really in the game and despite half-centuries from Mayank Agarwal and David Miller, finished well short. Here are the best moments from the encounter.
Andre Russell's carnage and Kings XI's kind gesture
Andre Russell is one of those guys who can make you pay for a mistake and Kings XI Punjab realised it the hard way on Wednesday. Mohammed Shami came around the wicket to clean up Russell with a terrific yorker off the last ball of the 17th over. The West Indian trudged off and Kings XI celebrated the wicket but the umpires called Russell back much to everyone's amusement and called for a free-hit after signalling a no-ball.
Shami, though, hadn't overstepped. The on-field umpires then clarified that the no-ball was called for having just three fielders inside the circle. As per the rules, there should be at least four fielders inside the inner circle after the powerplays. Russell was just on three at the time. Ashwin later revealed that debutant Varun Chakravarthy was supposed to be inside the circle.
It turned out to be a costly miss for Kings XI Punjab as Russell went on the rampage, rubbing salt into their wounds. He tonked Andrew Tye for two sixes and two fours next over and followed it up with three sixes and a four off Shami in the following over. He finished on 48 off 17 balls and helped Kolkata cruise past the 200-run mark. Russell has now faced 21 balls from Shami in the IPL of which 10 have disappeared for sixes. Last season, he had clubbed Shami, who was at Delhi Daredevils then, for six sixes across two overs.
Mystery spinner gives mystery spinner a grand welcome
Varun Chakravarthy caused a huge ruckus at the IPL auctions when he raked in a price of Rs 8.4 crores. Known for his variations, Chakravarthy was considered a handy option to have in the side in this format and Kings XI Punjab unhesitantly splurged on him. He was injured for the first match of the season but promptly came into the starting XI for the fixture against KKR.
Given Chris Lynn's weakness against spin, Ashwin threw Chakravarthy at him as early as the second over of the match. However, Lynn took a single on the first ball to hand over the strike to Sunil Narine, another mystery spinner who has increased his value by a transformation into an opening batsman.
Narine was unperturbed by Chakravarthy's variations and backed himself to clear the in-field when taking on the spinner. The Tamil Nadu bowler was taken for 24 runs in 5 balls with Narine slamming three sixes and a four off him. The sixes disappeared over long-off, mid-wicket and square leg as Narine stamped his supremacy over the rookie spinner.
Uthappa's lob and Russell's miss
The umpires were in the spotlight as controversy erupted in the sixth over of the chase. Mayank Agarwal had nudged the ball to point and set off for a quick single with Sarfaraz Khan at the non-striker's end promptly responding. Both batsmen had made their ground as Robin Uthappa, the fielder, lobbed the ball to Andre Russell at mid-on to pass on to the bowler for the next delivery.
Russell failed to track the ball properly and lost it with the light blocking his view. The ball raced away to the fence and the umpires gifted Kings XI Punjab a boundary in addition to the single they had run. A furious Dinesh Karthik and Uthappa, were seen having an animated discussion with the umpires because the ball ought to have been dead by the time Uthappa threw it to Russell. The decision, though, stood and Kings XI benefitted by four additional runs to their total. Not that it would have made a difference, though.
Chris Gayle dives!
A fielder diving to stop the ball is no big news in cricket. But when Chris Gayle does it, you sit up and take note. The big West Indian opener is known to be a casual runner between the wickets and is barely seen scampering across for singles or diving in the field to stop the ball. While he is a safe catcher, the 39-year old Gayle has appeared to be past the age where he can dive around while fielding or running.
However, at Eden Gardens, he sprung a little surprise. When Nitish Rana punched the ball through point, Gayle put in a big dive and stopped the ball much to the amusement of those watching. KL Rahul and Ravichandran Ashwin came running in to applaud Gayle and share a laugh. The Universe Boss had made a full-length dive to stop what would have been at least one run more for Kolkata Knight Riders. In the previous match against Rajasthan Royals, Gayle had made a slight stir while batting by hurrying back for a second run. No more dodgy knees?
Mayank Agarwal ends another long wait
Mayank Agarwal had to wait for quite a while before India chose to hand him his Test debut in Australia. The long wait for the Karnataka batsman after a stellar season in the Ranji Trophy was a huge topic of discussion during India's Test matches but Mayank Agarwal brought an end to another of his long waits when he slammed a half-century on Wednesday in the IPL.
The Kings XI No 3 batsman made 58 in 34 balls which was, incidentally, his first half-century in the IPL in four years. His last fifty-plus score in the tournament had come in 2015 for Delhi Daredevils against his current team, Kings XI Punjab. Agarwal had been in poor form in the IPL with the Punjab-based franchise but gave his record a minor boost with a fine half-century on Wednesday. He now has four half-centuries in IPL in 61 innings.
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