Narine, Russell dazzle as KKR rebound

KKR’s West Indies star Sunil Narine … top-scored with 75 in a winning cause.

INDORE, India, CMC – Sunil Narine blasted his sixth Twenty20 half-century and Andre Russell Russell grabbed three wickets, as Kolkata Knight Riders rebounded from two consecutive defeats to beat Chris Gayle’s Kings XI Punjab by 31 runs in the Indian Premier League here yesterday.

Asked to bat first at Holkar Cricket Stadium, the visitors piled up a tournament-high 245 for six off their 20 overs, with the left-handed Narine carving out a typically audacious 75 from 36 deliveries.

Captain Dinesh Karthik supported with exactly 50, while Russell lashed a swift 31 and Australian Chris Lynn, 27.

Australian fast bowler Andrew Tye was the best bowler with four for 41.

In reply, opener Lokesh Rahul smashed 66 and lower order batsman Ravi Ashwin, 45, but West Indies superstar Chris Gayle managed only 12 as Kings XI rallied before ending on 214 for eight off their allotted overs.

Paceman Russell led the attack for KKR with three for 41, as they moved into fourth spot on 12 points, to further intensify the race for a playoff spot.

Despite the loss, Kings XI remained third also on 12 points.

It was Narine’s fireworks which made the difference as the makeshift opener slammed nine fours and four sixes in an imperious innings.

Dropped on seven in the third over by Afghanistan off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman off a return catch, Narine made the most of the reprieve to race to his half-century off 26 deliveries.

His first seven balls yielded just seven runs but he accelerated quickly, striking hefty blows off Mujeeb and then left-arm seamer Barinder Sran.

Narine put on 53 for the first wicket with Lynn and dominated a 75-run, second wicket stand with Robin Uthappa (24) before finally perishing in the 13th over, feathering a pull at Tye to be caught at the wicket.

When Uthappa fell two balls later with one run added to leave KKR on 129 for three, the right-handed Russell arrived to belt two fours and three sixes in a 14-ball cameo, helping to inspire a frenetic-paced 76-run, fourth wicket stand with Karthik.

Barbadian fast bowler Javon Searles got in on the act on his IPL debut, carting the final delivery of the innings – the first ball he faced – for six over wide long on.

Gayle then struggled to get going, punching two fours and a six in a 17-ball stay at the crease as he added 57 off 34 deliveries with Rahul, who counted two fours and seven sixes in a 29-ball knock.

Fellow Jamaican Russell accounted for Gayle in the sixth over, getting the left-hander to edge a pull through to the keeper, and his dismissal saw Kings XI slide to 119 for five in the 12th over as the Caribbean trio of Narine, Searles and Narine scythed through the middle order.

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