Punjab Kings needed to win over Kolkata Knight Riders to stay in contention for a playoff spot in IPL 2021. They won the match courtesy of a short cameo by Shahrukh Khan while chasing a challenging total. Punjab and Kolkata currently have the same number of points in the standings, with the net run rate separating them. Knight Riders will play two of the bottom teams in their next two matches. On the other hand, the Kings will play RCB and CSK in their final round-robin league matchups. The match report of KKR vs. PBKS is discussed in this article.
Match Report: KKR vs. PBKS
Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul chose to bat first against Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday in Dubai.
Kolkata batted first and scored 165/7 in their allotted 20 overs. They lost their star opener, Shubman Gill in the third over with only 18 runs on the board. However, a 72-run partnership between Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi for the second wicket helped Kolkata reach 90 runs in 12 overs.
Knight Riders were on set for 200 runs at that point. However, Punjab managed to disrupt the flow of runs by taking two successive wickets in the 14th and 15th overs, respectively.
In the dying overs, Nitesh Rana's fiery batting helped Kolkata put up a competitive total on the board. Venkatesh Iyer scored the highest 67 runs for the Knight Riders. Apart from him, Rahul Tripathi made 34 runs and Nitesh Rana played a 31 off 18 balls knock. Arshdeep Singh was a little expensive, but he took the highest three wickets for Punjab Kings.
Chasing a difficult target, openers KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal gave Punjab Kings a perfect start with a 70-run stand between them in 8.5 overs. They were a bit watchful but they kept a solid pace in the middle.
Kolkata's spinner Varun Chakravarthy provided the much-needed breakthrough in the ninth over, dismissing Mayank Agarwal (40). He struck again in two overs, sending West Indian Nicholas Pooran back to the pavilion.
KL Rahul and Proteas power hitter Aiden Markram then put up a crucial 45-run partnership to take the total to 129 in 16 overs. Markram lost his wicket after an important 18-run innings.
Despite losing wickets at the other end, Captain KL Rahul stayed at the crease till the last over and made sure Punjab remained in the chase. Rahul's anchoring innings (67) came to an end in the second delivery of the 20th over.
Punjab's young power hitter Shahrukh Khan played a key role with the bat. He scored an unbeaten 22* from 9 balls to give Punjab a five-wicket victory. Kolkata's most successful bowler was Varun Chakravarthy (4-0-24-2).
Player of the Match
Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul was named the best player of the match for his guided 67-run innings.
Kolkata lost the KKR vs. PBKS contest after three consecutive victories in the UAE phase. Kolkata cannot afford to lose momentum at this crucial stage of the round-robin league. The Knight Riders must win their next two matches for a playoff berth. Otherwise, Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings will seize the opportunity and move up the points table.
On the other hand, defeating Kolkata was a huge result for the Punjab team. Now they are heading to their next two matches with greater confidence. Punjab's next two opponents, Chennai Super Kings, and Royal Challengers Bangalore have already qualified for the playoffs. Both teams may deploy some young players against Punjab in order to test the strength of their respective squads. If they do, Punjab will have the upper hand in both the fixtures.