KL Rahul Smashes Half Century as Punjab Kings Trump Kolkata By 5 Wickets
KL Rahul and Venkatesh Iyer both scored half centuries in the match.
A captain's knock from KL Rahul as he scored a half century to help Punjab Kings keep their IPL 2021 campaign alive with a five wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday in Dubai.
The result now means Delhi Capitals have become the second team to book their spot in the IPL 2021 playoffs while Punjab move to the fifth spot and Kolkata remain fourth.
After KKR posted 165/7 in their 20 overs, KL Rahul and his opening partner Mayank Agarwal gave the team a great start -- with Agarwal capitalising on an early life -- as Punjab chased down the target after asking KKR to bat first.
Rahul anchored the innings while Agarwal went for his shots as they raised 70 runs for the opening wicket. Agarwal, who struck three big sixes after being put down by Eoin Morgan when he had not yet scored a run, was caught by Morgan, incidentally, off Varun Chakravarthy.
Punjab lost a couple of wickets, Nicolas Pooran (12), Aiden Markram (18), and Deepak Hooda (3) getting out early but Rahul found a good partner in the big-hitting Shahrukh Khan and they pushed Punjab Kings across the line.
Rahul was eventually out, caught by Shivam Mavi off Iyer with Punjab needing four runs to win off as many deliveries. Shahrukh Khan (22 off 9 balls) blasted the next ball over the infield and the fielder spilled it over the rope and Punjab won the match.
Kolkata Were Put Into Bat
Venkatesh Iyer scored his second half-century in his fifth IPL match and Nitesh Rana blasted an 18-ball 31 but Punjab Kings came back strongly to restrict Kolkata Knight Riders to 165/7 in their 20 overs.
KL Rahul had elected to field after winning the toss as he said he thought the team batting second will have a chance but the way Iyer went about the job of piling up runs, Rahul must have been worried for some time as KKR were cruising at 90/1 by the 12th over despite losing Shubman Gill early.
Iyer scored his highest score of 67 but after his departure, KKR lost a couple more wickets quickly and, as has happened in the middle overs in the UAE leg of the IPL 2021, the bowling side came back to restrict the batters.
Nitish Rana landed some lusty blows as he scored 31 off 18 balls to help KKR reach a defendable score. Arshdeep Singh claimed 3/32 while Ravi Bishnoi picked 2/22 to help Punjab Kings slow KKR's progress.
The first innings though belonged to Venkatesh Iyer as the Madhya Pradesh opener added to his growing reputation with another superb innings in his first IPL.
Though KKR lost Gill -- bowled by Arshdeep Singh off an inside edge -- early, they managed to reach 48/1 in the Powerplay with Iyer and Tripathi held the innings together as they pushed the score towards the three-figure mark before they lost their second wicket.
Iyer was the more aggressive and assertive as he struck some pleasing shots, a couple of switch hits in his nine boundaries catching the eye. He was not afraid to jump out to attack the spinners as Punjab skipper KL Rahul opened the attack with left-arm spinner Fabien Allan.
Tripathi kept the score moving, hitting some good shots of his own, a big six off Fabian Allen being the standout shot.
Iyer went with his job undeterred as he raced to his half-century, his second fifty in five innings, off 39 deliveries, hitting seven fours in the process. Iyer used the gaps in the field intelligently, placing the ball well as made his highest score in the IPL. He was caught by Deepak Hoods going for a six off Bishnoi while trying to push the scoring rate.
He was out with the score at 120 and KKR lost their way in the last five overs though Nitesh Rana struck two fours and two sixes to give it a little push. But in the end, their skipper Eoin Morgan, who was trapped lbw by Mohammed Shami for two, would be a bit disappointed as they lost a chance of posting a bigger total.
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