SHARJAH: Mandeep Singh and Chris Gayle smashed half centuries as Kings XI Punjab opened up the playoff race in the Indian Premier League with an eight-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders yesterday.
Punjab, who lost six of their first seven league games, broke into the top four with their fifth consecutive win and pushed Kolkata down to fifth. Both Punjab and Kolkata have 12 points from 12 games, but Punjab are ahead on net run-rate.
Singh, whose father died Friday, put the personal tragedy behind him and scored an unbeaten 66 off 56 balls, while Gayle bludgeoned five sixes and two fours in making 51 off 29 balls as Punjab reached 150-2 with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, fast bowlers Mohammed Shami grabbed 3-35 and Ravi Bishnoi claimed 2-20 with his sharp googlies and legbreaks to restrict Kolkata at 149-9.
Shami’s double strike in his first over had pegged Kolkata back to 10-3 as Dinesh Karthik went without scoring in his 300th Twenty20 game. Shubman Gill (57) and captain Eoin Morgan (40) counter-punched with an attacking 81-run stand before Bishnoi struck in the 10th over when Morgan was caught at deep backward square leg.