Mahela Jayawardene scored his maiden century in the IPL to guide Kings XI Punjab to a convincing eight-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League match, at the Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, on Sunday.
Jayawardene, a last-minute inclusion in place of the injured Shaun Marsh, finished unbeaten on a splendid innings 110 from 59 balls, inclusive of 13 boundaries and three sixes, as Punjab registered only their second win in the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh hit a quick 33 from 16 balls, inclusive of two boundaries and three sixes, as Punjab cruised to 204 for two in 18.2 overs, winning with ten deliveries to spare.
Captain Kumar Sangakkara made 38 from 22 balls, adding 98 runs in 43 deliveries for the second wicket with Jayawardene, before he was caught at long-on off Shane Bond.
Earlier, Chris Gayle blazed a quickfire 88 to lift Kolkata Knight Riders to a huge 200 for three in their 20 overs after they elected to bat first.
Gayle finally came good with the bat, as he slammed six fours and eight sixes in his 42-ball-knock, before he holed out Juan Theron to the long-off fielder.
After a slow start, Kolkata cut loose in the second half of the match and amassed 131 runs in the last ten overs.
Sourav Ganguly gave the innings a good platform with a steady 36 from 31 balls, while Manoj Tiwary made 35 from 32 balls as Kolkata registered the highest score in the IPL at the venue.
Bopara, who was slammed by Gayle for four back-to-back sixes in the 13th over, conceded 33 runs in his third over, the most conceded by any bowler in a single over in the IPL.
Kolkata Knight Riders:
Sourav Ganguly got the innings off to a good start with two boundaries in the opening over from Irfan Pathan and followed it up with another boundary through point off Ramesh Powar in the next.
Chris Gayle hit his first boundary when he pulled Shalabh Srivastava through midwicket, and got another through the cover region. The left-arm pacer suffered further in his second over when Ganguly pulled him for a boundary and then lifted him straight down the ground for a six off the next delivery, as Kolkata reached 46 for no loss after five overs.
It was part-timer Ravi Bopara who provided Punjab the first wicket. Ganguly chipped one back to the bowler, who completed a good low catch. The former India captain was out for 36 from 31 balls, laced with five boundaries and a six.
That wicket slowed Kolkata, as the boundaries dried up. They were only 69 for one after ten overs.
Gayle then decided it was time to cut loose. He danced down the wicket to Ramesh Powar and hit one straight over the bowler for a six. He then hit Piyush Chawla for back-to-back boundaries through cover and long-on as Kolkata's inning started to get some momentum.
He then took Bopara to the cleaners, hitting four sixes in a row, as 33 runs came in the 13th over, the most conceded by a bowler in the IPL.
Gayle started by despatching Bopara over midwicket for a six and followed that up with a huge six over long-on to bring up his half-century from 30 balls. The next ball was sent crashing over the cover fence as Bopara pitched wide, while the following delivery was hit over long-on. Then the bowler bowled five wides, as Kolkata raced to 122 for one after 13 overs.
Chawla then suffered at the hands of Gayle, who slammed him for another couple of sixes, through wide long-on and long-off respectively.
Punjab's fielding then again let them down. Chawla dropped Gayle (81 from 39 balls) off his own bowling as he top edged an attempted heave on the leg side, in the 15th over.
It was raining sixes at the Eden Gardens as Gayle slammed his eighth six, lifting Theron straight down the ground. But Theron had his revenge when he tried another big shot down the ground but ended up hitting a full toss straight to Bopara at mid-off after a cracking innings of 88 from 42 balls, laced with sixes boundaries and eight sixes.
There was no stopping Gayle once he had gone berserk. Such was his domination that the last 64 runs of his innings came from a mere 18 deliveries, helping Kolkata take charge.
Gayle's wicket saw Punjab dry up the runs, as 19 came from the next two overs before Manoj Tiwary perished looking for a big hit. Tiwary, who made 35 from 32 balls, was caught on the long-on boundary by substitute fielder Mohammad Kaif off Pathan, in the 19th over.
David Hussey was unbeaten on 11 and Angelo Mathews made 17 as Kolkata finished on a huge 200 for three in their 20 overs.
Punjab's bowlers lost the plot against Gayle's assault, especially Bopara, who went for 43 in his three overs. Powar was the best bowler for the visitors as he gave away just 23 in his four overs, while Pathan and Theron took one for 36 each.
Kings XI Punjab:
Mahela Jayawardene started off in style, cutting Shane Bond for a boundary through point in the first over. The Sri Lankan batsman then took on young Jaidev Unadkat, hitting him for a couple of boundaries in the next over.
Bond was hit for a boundary each by Jayawardene and Manvinder Bisla, as Punjab looked to maintain a good run rate at the start.
Jayawardene then flicked the young pacer through midwicket for the first six of the innings and Bisla followed it up with a boundary as Punjab raced to 44 after four overs.
Bisla then took the attack to Murali Kartik as he charged down the wicket and lifted him straight for a boundary. But Kartik had the last laugh when he bowled Bisla with an arm delivery that crashed through his defences. He was dismissed for 18 from 13 balls as Punjab were reduced to 52 for one after five overs.
Kolkata brought in another spinner from the end. Gayle came on to bowl, but he was taken apart by Jayawardene. The Punjab opener gave Gayle a dose of his own medicine, hitting him for back-to-back boundaries before he lifted a full delivery over the long-on fielder for a six as the over went for 17 runs.
Kumar Sangakkara got his first boundary when he charged down the wicket and hit compatriot Angelo Mathews straight for a six, in the eighth over. In the same over, Jayawardene raced to his half-century off just 26 balls, having hit six boundaries and two sixes.
Sangakkara took a liking to Mathews and went after him again in his next over, hitting another six straight over the bowler's head.
Mathews was unlucky not to have picked up the wicket of Jayawardene (51) as Kartik dropped a simple catch at short thirdman.
At the halfway stage, Punjab were still in the hunt, having reached 107 for one after ten overs.
Jayawardene then looked to raise the tempo; he hit Ajit Agarkar for three boundaries in the 11th over and slammed Hussey for a straight six in the next.
It was Bond who gave Kolkata some hope with the wicket of Sangakkara for 38. The Punjab captain was foxed by the slower delivery and ended up chipping it straight to Hussey at long-on.
Yuvraj got on with the task immediately as he pulled Mathews through fine leg for a boundary. In the following over, Agarkar made him duck with a quick bouncer which only seemed to have fired up the Indian all-rounder. The left-hander sent Agarkar crashing into the stands over midwicket for a six and followed it up with a chipped boundary back over the bowler's head to take the total to 169 for two after 16 overs.
Punjab were in a rush to finish off things and Yuvraj slammed Kartik for back-to-back sixes through the leg side.
Jayawardene brought up a deserved century in the next over as he took a double through the off-side in the 18th over bowled by Bond. The former Sri Lanka captain took just 55 balls to reach the landmark, having hit 12 boundaries and three sixes, and took his team closer to victory.
Fittingly, he finished the contest with back-to-back boundaries off Unadkat as Punjab amassed 204 for two in 18.2 overs to win by eight wickets and ten deliveries to spare.
Jayawardene was unbeaten on a splendid innings of 110 from 59 balls, having hit 14 boundaries and three sixes, while Yuvraj was not out after a quick 33 from 16 balls, inclusive of two fours and three sixes.
Once again, the bowlers disappointed for Kolkata, with Bond's figures of one for 32 in four overs being the best.
Despite the victory, Punjab stay at bottom with four points from nine games, while Kolkata also remain static on fifth with eight points from nine games.