KXIP keep play-off hopes alive, beat KKR by 14 runs

KXIP fought back to successfully defend a total of 167 against KK to keep their hopes up.

Everything pointed to an easy Kolkata Knight Riders win. The modest total they had to chase, the perceived lack of firepower in the Kings XI Punjab bowling, and the whirlwind start the visitors got. But just when the obituaries were being penned for another stop-start campaign of the Mohali outfit, they came roaring back with an inspired performance in the field to keep their hopes alive for a spot in the playoffs.

Punjab struggled to get going in their innings and their total was made largely due to the belligerence of skipper Glenn Maxwell and the support he got from Wriddhiman Saha. Maxwell was energetic too as he struck 25-ball 44 to help Kings scored 167 for 6 after being put into bat. They made a wobbly start but made a late recovery to put up a respectable total on a pitch that showed signs of slowing down as the slower balls started grip ping the surface as the match wore on. From 63 for 3 at the halfway mark, Kings XI took 104 runs from the final 10 overs. The hosts lost wickets at regular intervals as they failed to stitch any big partnership. Their highest partnership was the 61for the fourth wicket between Maxwell and Wriddhiman Saha (38).

Maxwell, Saha and Manan Vohra got the starts but could not convert them to big scores. But as it turned out, they just about got enough. The start though was not very auspicious for the hosts as Kings could put up just 167 for 6 after being put into bat, but they defended the total courtesy a remarkable show by their bowlers at the PCA Stadium.

Kolkata Knight Riders had to chase a total of 168 to chase. Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn ensured that they get off to a brisk start. The two pieced together an opening partnership of 39 runs in just under 4 overs before Narine was dismissed by Mohit Sharma. Lynn was joined in the middle by Gautam Gambhir

But then came Rahul Tewatia. The little-known leg-spinner came in and got the Kolkata Knight Riders captain in the ninth over. He then claimed the wicket of Robin Uthappa. The presence of Chris Lynn in the middle meant that Kolkata always stood a chance.

Lynn and Manish Pandey then struggle to get a steady flow of runs going as Punjab tightened the screws in the field. Eventually, Pandey was dismissed by Matt Henry and Lynn too fell to a run-out. KKR still had capable batting hands in Chris Woakes and Yusuf Pathan but Punjab kept the pressure on in the death overs and came out as the winners.

The win takes Kings XI Punjab to 12 pints, two points behind Sunrisers Hyderabad in fifth place while Kolkata Knight Riders are second with 16 points. KKR, who have already booked a play-offs berth, also remained at second spot with 16 points from 13 matches.

Kings XI Punjab need to win all the rest of their matches in the league stage and hope for favourable results from the other matches that teams like Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders play to have any chance of making it into the playoffs this year.

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