Dubai: Punjab Kings boosted their chances of making the IPL play-offs with a five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders as effective death over bowling and smart batting by skipper KL Rahul and Shahrukh Khan shaped their crucial victory in the Indian Premier League here on Friday.
Rahul scored 67 runs off 55 balls and shared a 70-run stand with fellow opener Mayank Agarwal (40), knocking off a 166-run target with three balls to spare.
Shahrukh produced an impactful 9-ball 22-run knock when it mattered and finished the match with a six.
Venkatesh Iyer hit a fluent 67 while Nitish Rana produced a fiery 31 off 18 balls before Punjab Kings managed to stop KKR at 165 for seven.
Invited to bat, the in-form KKR batsmen controlled the proceedings for a major part of their innings and had it not been some excellent death over spells by Mohammed Shami (1/23) and Arshdeep Singh (3/32), KKR would have got a bigger score on the board. Iyer and Rahul Tripathi (34 off 26 balls) raised a 72-run stand, stroking the ball around with ease while Rana's cameo was also crucial for KKR since the run-rate had taken a hit at that time after two quick wickets.
The Punjab batsmen did not set the field on fire at the start of the chase as all they could manage 46 runs in the powerplay but did not lose a wicket.
Of the two batsmen, it was Agarwal who was hitting the ball at a good a strike rate while Rahul was going a-run-a-ball.
Varun Chakravarthy separated the openers by having Agarwal caught at in extra cover by Eoin Morgan, though it was a fierce shot.
Nicholas Pooran (12) was dropped at 1 by Tripathi in the same region but Chakravarthy ensured that it wasn't a costly miss as he dismissed the West Indian soon after.
Gripping the ball had become difficult for the bowlers due to the dew but Punjab batsmen were still happy working the ball around and getting an odd big shot in between.
Rahul raised his half-century with one such shot off a slower one from Southee when he cleared the square leg region.
KKR needed 45 runs from the final fiver overs. Aiden Markram (18) hit a gigantic six off Sunil Narine but was caught in the same over while Deepak Hooda (3) also perished soon.
Rahul seemed to have hit one straight to fielder but the third-umpire ruled him not out. He got out in the first ball of the final over but Shahrukh finished the job to calm a nervous dugout .
PBKS moved to fifth in the table with 10 points while KKR stayed in fourth with same number of points Earlier, left-arm pacer Arshdeep has been a top performer for Punjab this season and he delivered again by cleaning up Shubhman Gill (7) with a peach of delivery that breached the defence of the batsman in the third over.
Iyer, who has been a revelation this season, continued his good run with some fluent drives on both sides of the wicket despite that the ball was stopping a bit before coming on to the bat.
The batsmen's positive approach and lack of control over the line by the Punjab pacers meant that run-rate kept soaring for KKR.
The partnership was finally broken by spinner Ravi Bishnoi, who had Tripathi caught in the deep. The leg-spinner was also economical ending with figures of two for 22 in four overs.
Iyer completed his fifty with a single off Allen and then lofted the West Indian bowler for a six to raise team's hundred in the 13th over.
Two quick wickets fell when Bishnoi got rid of Iyer, who went for a big shot, and Shami trapped rival skipper Eoin Morgan (2), who shuffled a bit towards the off side but missed the line of the dipping ball that caught him in front of the wicket.
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