Kings XI Punjab
Kings XI Punjab players congratulate George Bailey on running out Robin Uthappa. Pal Pillai/IPL/SPORTZPICS

There was no Glenn Maxwell assault, or even a David Miller finishing master class, but there was one familiar result at the end of a Kings XI IPL 2014 match - a win for the Punjab franchise.

Kings XI failed to light up the IPL with their batting power as the Kolkata Knight Riders produced a sound bowling performance, led by former KXIP man Piyush Chawla (4-0-19-3), to keep their opponents down to just 132 for nine.

The chase, though, was not up to scratch, not even remotely, as the Kings XI bowlers, led by Sandeep Sharma (three for 21), came to the fore to fashion a comfortable 23-run win - their fourth in four of IPL 2014, and seventh overall -- with KKR bowled out for an unimpressive 109.

A solid start would have been the priority for KKR to ensure there were no early hiccups, and Gautam Gambhir, on a run of three straight ducks to open up IPL 2014, decided to keep himself at No.3 with Manish Pandey opening the innings with Jacques Kallis.

However, Pandey (8, 10b, 1x4) could not stay at the crease long enough to ease the minds of the players in the dugout, given lbw to the impressive Sandeep Sharma. Gambhir was quite lucky not to get out on another first-ball duck, with a leading edge just eluding the bowler Sharma as the left-hander stayed alive by the skin of his teeth.

And the left-hander would have breathed a huge sigh of relief, feeling like he had almost scored a hundred, as he clipped one off Mitchell Johnson a couple of balls later to get off the mark in this season's IPL. That, though, was as good as it got for Gambhir, who fell in his next delivery, picking out Akshar Patel at mid-off with Sharma (4-1-21-3) bagging his second wicket.

It was all downhill for KKR from that point, with Kallis (9, 11b, 2x4), the rock that KKR build their innings on, falling to Lakshmipathy Balaji in the sixth over. Kallis' wicket put the Knight Riders on 19/3 with the onus on Chris Lynn, last match's superman, and Robin Uthappa to build a partnership.

The duo stayed together for six overs, scoring 31 runs, but it all went pear-shaped soon enough, with Lynn (13, 18b, 2x4), first, dismissed by Patel, before Yusuf Pathan forgot he needed to use his bat to play cricket, finding himself rapped on the pads in front of the wicket.

Uthappa (19, 27b, 2x4) fell a couple of balls later, running himself out, leaving KKR on 62 for six after 13 overs, with no prayer of a win as KXIP eased home notwithstanding a 17-ball 34 (3x4, 1x6) from Suryakumar Yadav.

Sunil Narine KKR
KKR spinner Sunil Narine picked up three Kings XI Punjab wickets in four balls. Ron Gaunt/IPL/SPORTZPICS

It was not a swashbuckling, hitting every second ball for a boundary, thanks largely to Maxwell, first innings from Kings XI, with none of their big hitters really hitting their stride.

On a pitch which has seemed to help the bowlers a lot more than the batsmen, it was the former that held court again, with the Kings XI lineup, filled with batsmen that have made boundary-hitting look like drinking a glass of water, unable to set the fans' pulses racing.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who has been the anchor in a couple of innings in IPL 2014, could not provide the calming base at one end, with the right-hander getting run out in just the second over - Pandey hitting the stumps direct.

Wriddhiman Saha was sent in at No. 3 with the license to take on the bowlers, and the wicketkeeper took to Morkel in one over, hitting the fast bowler, who enjoyed himself on the pitch in Abu Dhabi which provided plenty of bounce, for a four and a six, after Umesh Yadav dropped him a ball earlier.

However, Saha's (14, 10b, 1x4, 1x6) little cameo was ended soon enough with Kallis trapping the right-hander in front of the wicket.

During this time, Virender Sehwag was playing himself in, with the India veteran taking the spotlight with a fabulous six off Sunil Narine, who conceded plenty in his first over.

The contest that everyone wanted to see was Narine vs Maxwell, and the Australian won the battle, albeit one of only two balls, with Narine winning the war.

Maxwell first welcomed Narine with a now trademark reverse sweep for four before a single off the final delivery of his over saw the KKR talisman concede 14 runs in his first over - something almost unheard of; Narine, of course, would have his revenge in the final overs.

Maxwell (15, 12b, 2x4) kept playing his shots, and this time it proved to be one too many as Morkel, brought back in the eighth over, picked up the priceless wicket, castling the Australian, who missed the ball completely while looking to help the ball to the fine-leg boundary.

Wickets kept falling for Kings XI, quelling any ideas of momentum, with David Miller next falling for 14 (10b, 2x4). Miller was Piyush Chawla's first wicket and the former Kings XI man, in for last match hero R Vinay Kumar, would pick two more vital ones, of George Bailey (11, 15b, 1x4) and Sehwag (37, 30b, 3x4, 1x6), to sway the game KKR's way.

Narine cleaned the tail up with three wickets - of Akshar Patel, Mitchell Johnson and Lakshmipathy Balaji - in four balls as KKR restricted Kings XI to a we-gotta-chase-this-down-from-here score.

However, the target proved to be well beyond the Knight Riders' reach as Kings XI kept their unbeaten record intact.