Before the match the equation was simple – winner stays, loser exits. In this knockout situation it as important for the respective captains to raise the bar and lead from the front to inspire their team members. Mahela Jayawardene may have won the battle between the two captains in terms of run-scoring but his 76-run effort failed to inspire his teammates. Eventually, the chapter closed on Kochi Tuskers Kerala’s IPL-4 campaign as the team went down by six wickets to Kings XI Punjab. Punjab were propelled by a dynamic knock from Dinesh Karthick which made the difference between the sides.
Kings skipper Adam Gilchrist made just 9 off 15 balls but his side overcame the initial hiccups to keep themselves in the hunt at the packed Holkar Stadium here on Friday. The fifth victory in their 11th match helped Kings XI Punjab stay afloat in the competition as they took their points tally to 10. It is still a long way to go for them but back-to-back wins must have raised their hopes of reaching the play-offs.
Chasing a challenging target of 179, Kings XI were in a spot of bother as they lost their star opening pair – Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty – with just 31 on the board. However, Karthick turned the match on its head with a swashbuckling 69 off just 33 balls. Overlooked for the West Indies tour, he took the Kochi attack to the cleaners to score a point or two. Karthick’s 111-run stand for the third wicket with Shaun Marsh (42; 30b) at a breathtaking speed shattered Kochi’s hopes. The fall of Karthick and Marsh in succession raised hopes for Kochi but by then the damage was already done.
David Hussey (21; 15b) and Mandeep (15; 10b) completed the formalities with seven balls to spare. RP Singh’s efforts went in vain. The left-arm paceman captured all the four wickets to fall but lacked support from his fellow bowlers. S Sreesanth was the major culprit as he not only bowled badly but was also pathetic in the field and dropped a crucial catch on the boundary.
Earlier, put in to bat, Kochi wasted a flying start to post 178-7 despite a 52-ball 76 by Jayawardene. At one stage, they were heading for a 200-plus total.