From here on, it will be a Herculean task for Kings XI to qualify for the play-offs as they not only will have to win their remaining three games but their fate will also depend on the outcome of other games. KKR openers Sunil Narine (54 of 17 balls) and Chris Lynn (50 from 22 balls) destroyed the Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling attack to seal their eighth win from 12 matches.
Lynn struck eight fours and three sixes but wickets fell around him as the men in purple failed to gun down a par target of 168 set by the hosts batting first at the IS Bindra Stadium.
It is to be seen till how long the experiment of using Narine as a pinch hitter succeeds for Kolkata.
KKR: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa (wk), Umesh Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Ankit Rajpoot, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Manish Pandey. The two spinners only conceded 25 runs between overs seven and twelve.
"We probably left ourselves 10-15 runs short, but we backed our plans".
Lynn brought up his half-century in the tenth over, but he too lost his timing in the latter part of his knock.
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He put on 91 for the first wicket with Ishan Kishan (29).
Smith was handed another lifeline in the eighth over when a diving Gurkeerat Singh spilled a chance off the bowling off skipper Glenn Maxwell. Both of them will have to step up and provide initial breakthrough against KKR before Mohit Sharma and Natarajan try to contain the leakage of runs during the middle of the inning.
Just as it seemed Lynn might carry his bat through the innings, to a century and a Kolkata victory he was run out by a brilliant piece of fielding from Axar Patel. The important Punjab batsmen Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell and Martin Guptil are playing fine but bowlers are failing to perform as per expectation.
Maxwell was aided by Wriddhiman Saha, who chipped in with 38 of his own as the duo added 71 runs for the fourth wicket. KXIP 56-3 in 8.3 overs.
Maxwell and Saha stemmed the rot with a cautious association. He hit the New Zealand pacer for two sixes in the 12th over.
The Lions would get over the line with six wickets and two balls to spare. What makes things even more hard for KXIP is that their remaining two matches after this one are against Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant, both teams that look in ominous form and are among the top three in the League at the moment.