IPL 2018: Punjab lose by 31 runs while chasing Kolkata's 246
Despite getting a superb start by openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, Punjab failed to capitalise the start and fell 31 runs short while chasing a mammoth target of 245 runs at the Holkar Cricket Stadium, Indore on Saturday.
KL Rahul rose to the occasion and slammed 66 runs in just 29 balls which included two boundaries and seven sixes.
Run machine Gayle also contributed 21 runs before being dismissed off Russell.
But it was the downline which failed to continue the momentum as Karun Nair and Mayank Aggarwal was dismissed very cheaply.
While Mayank failed open his account, Nair was sent back to the pavilion after making just three runs.
Skipper Ravichandran Ashwin played a perfect cameo to lift Punjab from crises.
He slammed four boundaries and three huge sixes to reach 45 in just 22 balls.
Aaron Finch also made 34 runs but failed to stay on the crease for long.
Put into bat, Kolkata had set mammoth 245 runs on board against Punjab, to save their chances of qualifying for the play-offs in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn opened for Kolkata and were in attack position from the very first bowl.
Narine took the wheels in his hand after Lynn departed after contributing just 27 runs.
He played a blistering knock of 75 runs in 36 balls which included nine boundaries and four sixes, before being sent back to the pavilion.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik also slammed a half-century in just 23. His inning included five fours and three sixes.
The downline was in terrific form as every batsman contributed today.
Robin Uthappa and Andre Russell too made 24 and 31 runs respectively, in 17 and 14 balls.
For Punjab, Axar Patel was the most expensive bowler as he gave 52 runs in four overs bowled and did not take any wicket.
Earlier, Punjab skipper Ravichandran Ashwin on Saturday won the toss and opted to field against Kolkata.
Both the sides came off a defeat and seemed desperate to bring their campaign back on winning ways.
Kolkata were hammered by Mumbai in their last encounter as the Rohit Sharma-led side registered a thumping 102-run victory over them.
Punjab too, suffered a narrow 15-run loss to Rajasthan Royals in their last outing.
Talking about their strategy for today, Ashwin said, "We'll bowl first. It's a small ground and difficult to defend, so we'll try to chase it down. It's a day game and it's dried up a bit. Previous games were sticky but this one is expected to stay the same."
"We are sticking to our old combination. We have brought Agarwal in for Nath, Sran for Tiwary and Finch for Stoinis," he added.
When asked about their strategy, skipper Dinesh Karthik said, "One team has to bat first. We'll try to make the most of the opportunity. Just one change for us, Searles comes in for Curran."
"We are sticking to the same team as I am someone who believes to stick to one team and believe in the boys. So we are sticking to the same XI with just one change."
While Punjab acquires third place with 12 points, Kolkata are placed fifth in the league table with 10 points.
Punjab (Playing XI): Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul(w), Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch, Karun Nair, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma, Barinder Sran, Mujeeb Ur Rahman
Kolkata (Playing XI): Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Robin Uthappa, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik(w/c), Andre Russell, Javon Searles, Piyush Chawla, Prasidh Krishna, Kuldeep Yadav