Kolkata, Apr 14: Kolkata Knight Riders keep providing opening surprises. After Chris Lynn (93*) did the damage against Gujarat Lions in their first match while opening with skipper Gautam Gambhir, it was Sunil Narine who filled in the opener's shoes at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday evening after the Australian was ruled out with an injury.
The KKR think tank must have taken a cue from the Trinidadian's opening exploits for Melbourne Renegades in this year's Big Bash, where he opened with Aaron Finch. The mystery spinner, who earlier was the most effective KKR bowler (1-19) with his tight line and length, did not disappoint.
His 18-ball 37 gave the hosts the right start to record a comfortable eight-wicket victory for the hosts with 21 balls to spare. This was Punjab's first defeat in their third match in this IPL-10.
The Kolkata bowlers also put up a creditable show to peg back the Kings to 170 for nine even after the visitors made a breezy start after being put in by Gambhir who won the toss.
Narine played fearless cricket as he swung his bat at almost everything that came his way. He was finally caught at deep mid-wicket by Axar Patel off Varun Aaron after hitting the pacer for two sixes and one four in the same over.
Skipper Gambhir too found the boundary in regular intervals and remained unbeaten on 72. The left-handed opener hit 11 fours during his 49-ball stay in the middle.
Earlier, the Punjab outfit lost the plot after making a promising start. They began well by collecting 53 runs without losing a wicket in the first five overs but suffered a late collapse to lose six wickets for 36 runs in the last five.
They also benefitted from the home side's pathetic ground fielding and poor catching. Add to that the 16 extras, which included 13 wides and two no balls, and that showcased Gambhir-led team's ordeal on the field.
Punjab opener Manan Vohra set the tone of the innings by pulling a short one from pacer Umesh Yadav, who came in place of Ankit Rajpoot, for a six over mid-wicket. Vohra, who was dropped by Sunil Narine on the third man fence after he miscued a shot off Trent Boult, hit four fours and one six in his knock of 28 which came off just 19 balls before Piyush Chawla, playing in place of Kuldeep Yadav, cleaned him up with a googly.
Punjab's run rate dipped after Vohra's departure as Marcus Stoinis, who was promoted up the order, failed to get going and Hashim Amla too struggled to find the gaps.