KKR have finally cracked the code to Eden Gardens after three consecutive defeats at home, recording a thrilling victory from five wickets chasing a tricky 180.
The win was Kolkata’s fifth of the season, which helped them move up to fifth in the points table. Punjab, meanwhile, suffered their sixth defeat of the season and are now in 7th place after 11 games in their season.
With two needed on the final ball, Rinku Singh ‘the finisher’ once again remained calm as a cucumber, hitting Arshdeep Singh for a boundary to wrap up the tense chase.
It was a complete “RRR” show from KKR as skipper Rana’s fifty and Andre Russell adding muscle to the 180 chase allowed Rinku to finish the match with a 10-ball-21 not out.
Earlier, Varun Chakravarthy once again brilliantly led his bowling department to grab 3/26 as KKR put on a tidy bowling show to limit PBKS to one par 179 for seven after the visitors opted to hit on a slow counter.
As it happened
In response, KKR’s batting show was led by Rana’s stellar effort when he promoted to No. 3 and laid the groundwork with a 51 on 38 (6×4, 1×6).
On a wicket where the odd ball was gripping and the batters were struggling to find their timing, Rana stuck a crucial over-fifty position with Venkatesh Iyer (11) before Andre Russell and Rinku Singh sealed the problem.
Needing 56 on 28 balls after Rana became Rahul Chahar’s second victim, Russell went ballistic against Sam Curran by smoking him for three sixes on four balls in a 20-run over to change the equation in favor of KKR who needed six on the last.
But the death on specialist Arshdeep Singh who had six to defend won on the wire with four balls on the first four. Arshedeep has often floundered lately failing to nail his yorkers.
There was more drama when Russell was knocked out in the penultimate ball as a calm-headed Rinku Singh (21 not out; 10b) again came to the rescue of KKR, sealing victory with a limit on the last ball.
The duo of Russell and Rinku put together a winning partnership of 54 runs from 26 balls.
Their second win in a row pushed KKR (-0.079) past Royal Challengers Bangalore (-0.209) into the top five on net run rate as five teams are locked in a mid-table rush for the playoffs with 10 points.
Chahar kicked in a brilliant 10th conceding just three points to have them 76/2 at the halfway mark as the home side still had a lot of work to do with 104 needed from the back-10.
But Rana turned it around, supporting Livingstone when he hit part-time spinner PBKS for two straight fours and a six in a 16-run over.
It was still no cakewalk with legpinner Rahul Chahar quietly playing his part in his tidy 4-0-23-2.
He not only broke the fifty-plus-year stand between Rana and Venkatesh Iyer, but also fired the duo in the space of nine races to keep PBKS hopes alive.
Earlier, KKR Impact player Jason Roy (38; 24b) and Rahmanullah Gurbaz (15; 12b) gave them a good start when they moved to 36 unbeaten in four overs after taking down Arshdeep Singh among cleaners in 16 run overs.
But the opening duo failed to convert their starts and went out in the space of 16 deliveries as the match was evenly matched.
Nathan Ellis gave the breakthrough by trapping Gurbaz LBW with a slower, before Roy fell victim to Brar after failing to clear the deep midwicket.
One day Sunil Narine (4-0-29-0) was decent but again went without a wicket, Chakravarthy relished the slow nature of the lane where the odd ball clung to come back with excellent numbers of 4 -0-26-3 after PBKS opted to beat.
It would have been worse for PBKS but the duo of Shahrukh Khan (21 not out; 8b) and Harpreet Brar (17 not out; 9b) stepped it up brilliantly in the final two overs which yielded 36 runs in an unbroken stand of 40 points. who came out of only 16 balls.
Fresh off his final heroics when he defended nine points against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Chakravarthy took down the in-form Punjab duo of Liam Livingstone and Jitesh Sharma who looked to have broken their backs in the middle.
Livingstone was looking his best destroyer, crushing Andre Russell for three-four in the fifth.
Looking dangerous in his nine-ball 15, Livingstone was faced with a perfect quick leg break from Chakravarthy to be trapped flat on his back foot.
With Harshit Rana (3-0-33-2) grabbing two inside the power play, KKR got off to a perfect start reducing PBKS to 58/3.
Skipper Shikhar Dhawan (57; 47b) anchored the show in a Virat Kohli-like round the other day against the Delhi Capitals but the southpaw never got off the ground and was sacked by KKR skipper Nitish Rana .
Dhawan rode 53 runs partnered with Jitesh Sharma (21).
Rana smartly threw Chakravarthy once in the power play and then in the 8th, 13th and 17th as he finished his quota, cleaning up Rishi Dhawan with a bad one.
Rishi (19; 11b) clearly intended to crush Chakravarthy for a six in the first ball, but spinner KKR had the last laugh.
On a wicket from Eden that looked drier from the outside, tailor Rana gave KKR a perfect start, striking twice in two overs after Prabhsimran got off to the start in style with three limits from Arora in the first over .
Gurbaz took Prabhsimran’s hold on the second attempt and on her next attempt Rana brought in Bhanuka Rajapaksa for a three-ball duck.
Things still tilted in PBKS’s favor, however, as in-form Liam Livingstone counterattacked Andre Russell with three straight fours on 19 points.
PBKS looked on course with 51/2 after five overs, when Chakravarthy trapped Livingstone hard on his back foot in a crucial turnover for KKR.
(With PTI entries)
Show KKR vs PBKS IPL 2023 Highlights: Kolkata land last ball thriller to stay alive