Shubman Gill's brilliant unbeaten 65 off 49 balls helped Kolkata Knight Riders stay afloat in the race for the playoffs as they beat Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets in Mohali on Friday. On his home ground, but playing for a different franchise, Gill stole the show with some attacking cricket and took the Kings XI Punjab bowlers to the cleaners. 

Backed by Chris Lynn's 46 off 22 balls and a cameo from Dinesh Karthik (21* off 9 balls), Kolkata Knight Riders ensured that their chances of securing the fourth and final playoff spot remained alive. With this loss, Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, have virtually been knocked out of the tournament unless some miracles happen.

Let's look at the factors which contributed to KKR's win and kept their hopes alive for the playoffs. 

1. Sandeep Warrier scalped KL Rahul and Chris Gayle early in innings

The Kings were asked to bat first, and the onus of keeping the momentum on Punjab's side at the start was once again on the shoulders of Rahul and Gayle. The duo has scored 85% of the runs for their side in the ongoing edition of the IPL, and in their absence or if they depart early, the side doesn't look half as effective. 

Warrier, who was playing his second IPL game, didn't disappoint at all as he captured two big fish. Rahul was the first to be dismissed as Warrier bowled a slower one, the opener was early in his shot and found the mid-on fielder. He managed to add a mere two runs. 

Gayle, on the other hand, was looking good, but couldn't continue for long. He struck two boundaries to get to 14 runs. However, in no time, the hosts were reduced to 22 runs for the loss of two wickets. As the innings progressed, the Punjab batsmen took their time before going after the Warrier. 

2. Kolkata openers laid a perfect foundation

Sam Curran's 55 runs off 24 deliveries, which involved seven boundaries and two mighty sixes, took Kings XI Punjab's total to 183 runs. At one stage, it looked an above par score and the home side would have been very confident about defending it. But their hopes took a major dent when Gill and Lynn provided an explosive start for Kolkata Knight Riders. 

At the start of the chase, Lynn was the aggressor and Gill was playing the anchor's role. Lynn smashed five fours and three sixes during the course of his quickfire innings. In the partnership of 62 runs between them, young Gill added 16 runs. 

However, once Lynn departed, Shubman made sure of playing with extra responsibility and maturity. He remained unbeaten on 65 runs from 49 balls as KKR won the match with two overs to spare. KKR will now focus on upstaging Mumbai Indians in their last league encounter on Sunday to give themselves the best chance of qualifying for the playoffs.