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Kings XI Punjab stayed in contention in the race for playoffs with an upset victory over the second-placed Kolkata Knight Riders even as its top batsman Chris Lynn's 52-ball 84 went up in smoke in an Indian Premier League (IPL) game here on Tuesday. Punjab now have 12 points from the same number of matches and play Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant away. KKR, on the other hand, remained second despite the defeat with 16 points from 13 outings. They have already made the knockout stages. Lynn struck eight fours and three sixes but wickets fell around him as the men in purple failed to gun down a par target of 168 set by the hosts batting first at the IS Bindra Stadium here. Rahul Tewatia (2/18) and Mohit Sharma (2/24) were the best bowlers for Punjab with the latter bowling a fantastic penultimate over leaking just nine runs and taking the wicket of out-of-form Yusuf Pathan (2).
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The twice champions needed 20 runs off the last over but Colin de Grandhomme (not out 11) and Chris Woakes (not out 8) failed to drag their team over the line. Lynn and Narine started from where they had left off in the last match, taking 14 runs in the first over off Sandeep Sharma where Narine smacked two back-to-back fours in the first two deliveries of the innings, and Lynn struck one too in his first ball. Narine (18; 10b; 4x4, 0x6) failed to continue his fireworks as Mohit Sharma cleaned him up with a slower one. Gautam Gambhir (8; 18b; 0x4, 0x6) struggled to get going as Rahul Tewatia sent the in-form skipper back early and Robin Uthappa got out for a golden duck two balls later. Stung by two wickets in quick succession, the visitors, who were 61/1 at the end of the first six overs, could not get going in the next four managing just 18 with Manish Pandey joining Lynn at the crease.
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At no stage did Punjab throw in the towel with Sandeep Sharma bowling a superb 16th over where he conceded just five runs. Mohit followed that up with a economical over before Manish Pandey (18; 23b; 1x4, 0x6) and Lynn got out. While Pandey holed out to Axar Patel at deep midwicket, Lynn was run out. Earlier, Punjab lost wickets at regular intervals and could not get partnerships going as KKR restricted them to 167/6 in 20 overs. Glenn Maxwell (44; 25b; 1x4, 4x6) and Wriddhiman Saha 38 (33b; 2x4, 1x6) stitched together a 71-run stand for the fourth wicket but it was KKR's England all-rounder Chris Woakes who stole the show with best bowling figures of 2/20 in his alloted four overs. Left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav also returned decent figures of 2/34 as the Gautam Gambhir-led side never let the Punjab batsmen pull away.
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Axar (not out 8) and Tewatia (not out 14) were at the crease at the end of the innings. In the absence of Hashim Amla, Martin Guptill opened the batting with Manan Vohra. The pair did not last long though. First to go was Vohra (25; 16b; 4x4, 0x6), falling to in-form fast bowler Umesh Yadav trying to play fine down the leg side with the ball kissing the glove and carrying to fit-again wicket-keeper Uthappa. In the next over, Narine got Guptill (12; 16b 1x4 0x6) leg before wicket. After Powerplay overs (6), the hosts were 41/2. Shaun Marsh looked good for his 11, milking two boundaries before Woakes castled him.
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Maxwell and Saha stemmed the rot with a cautious association. Punjab were 63/3 at the halfway stage. Just when Maxwell tried to up the ante, tonking Kuldeep Yadav for two consecutive sixes only to get out in the next ball. Trying to clear the fence again, the big-hitting Australian forced Woakes to run across from long-off and complete a superb catch. Swapnil Singh departed soon after adding just two runs to the total as the visitors reined in the run flow in the final overs.