West Indian all -rounder Andre Russell, who has become a match winner for the KKR this season, smashed the joint fastest fifty of the season as Kolkata Knight Riders pulled off a heart-stopping one-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab to jump to the top of the IPL table .
Fortunes fluctuated like a pendulum in the contest which went to the wire as Piyush Chawla (18) struck a vital six off Anureet Singh to take defending champions closer to the target of 184 and eventually they prevailed with one ball left.
KKR were gasping at 83 for 4 at one stage and the required run-rate had shot past 12 with 98 runs required from last eight overs. From there Russell and Yusuf Pathan (29) put on 53 runs from 25 balls for the fifth wicket to turn the match around. Russell slammed five fours and four sixes in his 21-ball 51 as he equalled Harbhajan Singh’s fastest fifty (from 19 balls) this season. Pathan provided perfect support from the other end to the Jamaican who unleashed his fury in front of a packed home support to take them near.
There was never a clear winner as wickets kept falling but KKR kept nearing the target and eventually eight runs were required from the last over. KKR lost two wickets in three balls including that of Chawla, leaving Narine at the crease to score one run from two balls.
The left-hander held his nerve and played a flick shot, did not connect and took the winning run from the legbye to seal his side a thrilling win. KKR thus ended their home leg winning three matches on the trot and jumped to the top spot of the table with 15 points from 12 matches, while KXIP remained at the bottom (four from 11), suffering seventh straight loss.
Earlier, Gambhir had KKR them a brisk start in the power play with 57/1 in the first six overs but introduction of spin put on the brakes. Left-arm spinner Patel gave away just two runs from his first over, while offie Gurkeerat was tidier with just one run to stem the flow of runs. As a result Manish Pandey tried to break free in the next over but only to mistime Maxwell and was caught by Patel. Gurkeerat gave the big breakthrough in Gambhir the next over to derail KKR’s run chase before Russell bailed them out with his heroics yet again.