Forgettable ‘Knight Show’: Bairstow ton, Shashank pyrotechnics in historic run-chase by Punjab Kings

Kolkata, 26 Apr: Jonny Bairstow lit the Kolkata skyline with a monstrous century as Punjab Kings owned the ‘City of Joy’ with a world record chase of 262 against a completely befuddled Kolkata Knight Riders in an IPL match here on Friday.
On a sultry evening in a parched Kolkata, Punjab Kings batters rained sixes — 24 of them all as a target of 262 was overhauled in 18.4 overs, courtesy Bairstow’s unbeaten 108 off 48 balls, well supported by Shashank Singh 68 not out off 28 balls and pint-sized Prabhsimran Singh’s punchy 54 off just 20 balls.
When Sunil Narine (71 off 32 balls) and Phil Salt (75 off 37 balls) smoked the Punjab bowlers in 40 degree plus temperature in the early evening, little did Shreyas Iyer envisage what awaited fate awaited him and his men at night. The night never belonged to Knights as Bairstow had earmarked the Friday night for his redemption with a ‘Shashank’ for company.
No credit is enough for Prabhsimran, who started in earnest making a mincemeat of KKR attack on a flat deck, giving Bairstow some time to get his bearings right.
After Prabhsimran’s departure, Rilee Rossouw struck a 16-ball 26, while in-form Shashank blasted eight sixes, only one less than Bairstow’s nine in what turned out to be a walk in the park.
The match also witnessed 523 runs and an all time IPL record sixes of 42 maximums.
Both the record chases now have come against KKR in space of 10 days and at the same venue of Eden Gardens.
It was on April 16, KKR had failed to defend 223/6 with another Englishman — Jos Buttler — who smashed a 55-ball century to pull off the heist.
It was IPL’s joint record chase till then and both by with Rajasthan Royals — first against Mumbai Indians in 2000 and then vs KKR in 2024.
The two defeats also highlighted KKR’s bowling plight this season as their 24.75 crore buy Mitchell Starc has failed to live up to his big prize purse, something that may be a big concern for the team poised to make the playoffs.
This win may be a little too late for PBKS to make the playoffs. This was their third win from nine matches as they improved their position to eighth spot in the 10-team standings.
For KKR, this was their third loss from eight matches as they have 10 points, occupying the second spot behind Rajasthan.
Prabhsimran made the perfect impact at the top replacing pacer Arshdeep Singh when he creamed an 18-ball fifty with five sixes and four fours to give PBKS an ideal start to the massive chase.
Prabhsimran teed off against Harshit Rana, smoking him for two sixes in three balls, before Dushmantha Chameera bore his burnt and conceded 23 runs in his over.
On six off five balls, Bairstow was a mute spectator at his end with Prabhsimran blazing all guns.
Down on one knee, Prabhsimran launched into Narine for a six over backward square leg that summed up the the effortlessness with which the batters had their way while wielding the willow.
Bairstow came on his own in the next over when he went ballistic against KKR’s ‘Impact Player ‘, left-arm spinner Anukul Roy, who leaked three fours and two sixes in his first five balls.
The only respite was Narine’s direct hit from short fine-leg in the final delivery of that Roy over that brought an end to Prabhsimran’s blazing knock.
Before this match, Bairstow’s highest this season was 42 as he got out for single digit scores twice and managed just 96 runs to be dropped in their last two matches.
But nothing went wrong for the 34-year-old Englishman who single handedly steered the chase.
After the thunderous start from Prabhsimran.
Earlier KKR’s posted their second ever 250-plus total, both coming during the current season.
Narine blasted nine fours and four sixes — his third fifty plus score of the season after 85 against Delhi Capitals and 109 versus Rajasthan Royals previously.
Narine also jumped to second spot in the race for the ‘Orange Cap’ for leading run-getters with 357 runs from eight matches, 73 runs behind Virat Kohli (430 runs) who has played one match extra.
Salt also was at his explosive best and blazed his way to his third fifty of the season in his 37-ball 75, studded with six fours and half a dozen sixes.
Narine’s fifty came off just 23 balls, while Salt took two more deliveries to complete the milestone as the KKR opening duo reeled off 100 runs in just eight overs.
They also posted season’s highest opening partnership of 138, eclipsing 134 by Lucknow Super Giant’s KL Rahul and Quinton de Kock in their match against Chennai Super Kings on April 19.
At 190/2 from 15 overs, KKR seemed well on course to improve upon their highest total of 272/7 that came against Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam on April 3.
But their middle and lower order failed to capitalise and it was Shreyas Iyer’s 10-ball 28 (1×4, 3×6) which went a long way in taking them past 260-run mark. (PTI)