Classy Gill guides Knights home

Shubman Gill

Shubman Gill showed maturity beyond years as Kolkata Knight Riders defeated Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets on Friday to stay afloat in the Indian Premier League.

Chasing a target of 184, the 19-year-old Gill showed his range on his ‘home turf’ with an attractive 65 not out off 49 balls, anchoring the chase after Chris Lynn (46 off 22 balls) set the pace with some big hits in the Powerplay overs.

Not only did KKR reach the target in 18 overs but they also improved their net run-rate as they now have 12 points with a must-win away game against Mumbai Indians left. 

Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals have already qualified for the play-off spots, and the race is on to claim the last remaining place. KKR are placed fifth now, behind Sunrisers Hyderabad. Kings XI are in seventh place after the latest defeat and they have 10 points with a game to play.

Kolkata’s opening duo added 62 in 6 overs before Lynn was dismissed having hit five fours and two sixes. Robin Uthappa (22, 14 balls) looked good but didn’t stay long enough even as Gill, who hit five fours and two sixes, carried on with minimum fuss.

Andre Russell (24 off 14 balls) hit a couple of sixes in the 50-run stand in only 4.2 overs to cut the chase short. Gill’s batting was a treat for the eyes as he literally toyed with KXIP skipper Ravichandran Ashwin, hitting him for 18 runs in an over. There was a six over long on when he came down the track and another slog sweep behind square.

The half-century came with a deft late cut which prompted his happy father to break into a bhangra. Dinesh Karthik (21 off 9 balls) then finished the match with a flourish.

Earlier, youngsters Sam Curran and Nicholas Pooran displayed belligerence as Kings XI put on a respectable 183 for 6 after being put into bat. While West Indies’ Pooran smashed 48 off 27 balls to give the innings initial impetus as he added 69 runs for the third wicket with Mayank Agarwal (36 off 26 balls), Englishman Curran walloped KKR bowlers to smash an unbeaten 55 off 24 balls to take the score past the 180-run mark.

For KKR, fast bowler Sandeep Warrier (2/31) was the most impressive as he removed the opening pair of Chris Gayle (14 off 14 balls) and KL Rahul (2 off 7 balls) in quick succession.

However Pooran again showed his big-hitting prowess, hitting four sixes apart from three boundaries as he found an able partner in Agarwal.

Pooran was unlucky to miss out on a fifty as he holed out to deep mid-wicket trying to hit a Nitish Rana half-tracker for six.

Once Agarwal and later Mandeep Singh (25) got out, it seemed that KXIP will have to settle for less than 170 but Curran had other ideas as 32 runs came off the last two overs.

In the 19th over, Curran hit Andre Russell for a couple of boundaries, before launching into countrymate Harry Gurney, hitting him for 22 runs, which included three fours and a big six. In all, Curran hit seven fours and two sixes. 

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