Thu, Apr 23, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Gayle fires Knight Riders to victory

AFP , DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA

Kolkata Knight Riders players celebrate the dismissal of Kings XI Punjab batsman Ravi Bopara during their IPL match at Kingsmead in Durban, South Africa, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Chris Gayle gave a magnificent display of power-hitting before rain played spoilsport in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.

The West Indies captain smashed four sixes in his 26-ball unbeaten 44 to fire Kolkata Knight Riders to an 11-run victory over Kings XI Punjab in a rain-hit match.

The second game of the double-header between defending champions Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians was abandoned without a ball being bowled owing to bad weather.

Mumbai now have three points from two games, while Rajasthan took their first point after losing their opening match.

Kolkata raced to 79-1 off 9.2 overs in reply to Punjab’s 20-over total of 158-6 when the game was called off due to rain. They were 11 runs ahead on the Duckworth-Lewis method at that stage.

It was Kolkata’s first victory in two matches, while Punjab remained winless after two games.

“The win should give us some momentum,” Kolkata captain Brendon McCullum said. “We thought a score of 150-160 was par on this ground, but Gayle got us off to a superb start. It could have been a potentially close game, but for the rain.”

Man-of-the-match Gayle put his team on course for victory when he put on 57 off just 33 balls for the opening wicket with New Zealander McCullum, who cracked two sixes in his 16-ball 21.

“I’m happy with the result though the spectators would have wanted a full game. McCullum eased the pressure off me,” Gayle said.

Punjab paid dearly for letting off Gayle early in the innings, with Karan Goel dropping an easy catch at mid-wicket off South African left-arm seamer Yusuf Abdulla.

“It’s a bit unfortunate,” Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh said. “We also dropped a catch and that let them get ahead. Batting looked pretty good but we need to sort out our bowling.”

Yuvraj and Kumar Sangakkara (26) helped Punjab post a respectable total with a 56-run stand for the fourth wicket after a double-strike from Kolkata seamer Sourav Ganguly.

Yuvraj, who smashed six sixes in an over at this venue against England in the Twenty20 World Championships in 2007, top-scored with a 28-ball 38 with the help of two sixes.

Former India captain Ganguly ended Punjab’s early flourish with two wickets in his opening over, having pinch-hitter Irfan Pathan (32) caught at deep mid-wicket and removing Ravi Bopara (15) caught behind.

Yuvraj and Sangakkara then steadied the innings before Mahela Jayawardene cracked a 19-ball 31 not out to help his team cross the 150-mark.

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