Kings XI Punjab were playing their last match at their home ground in Mohali and were determined to give the crowd something to cheer about at last. Piyush Chawla and Irfan Pathan combined to pick three wickets each while the Sri Lankan duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara prospered with the willow to guide Punjab to only their third victory in the tournament.
On their part, Mumbai Indians put in a tough fight with the ball, but their batsmen had left them with a little too much to do.
While there were a number of significant contributions from Punjab’s side, none was more vital than the one by leggie Chawla. Mumbai had recovered from the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan, cleaned up by Pathan, and were beginning to from gain the ascendancy courtesy a flurry from boundaries from Ambati Rayudu. This is where Chawla stepped in and turned the game… literally.
He began by castling the ominous looking Rayudu for 33 (off only 18 balls) with a wrong that the batsman clearly failed to pick. But, what was to follow was even more impressive and shattering for the batting side. Saurabh Tiwary, one of the finds of the season for Mumbai, was forced to drag his feet out of the crease by Chawla, only to be cleverly stumped.
Chawla had picked up two big wickets in his three overs, and could have easily been taken off. However, here is where Sangakkara played his masterstroke. Noticing that Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t at his fluent best, he threw the ball to Chawla for his last over.
History too has proved that the leg-spinner has had some amount of success against the legend. The combined effect of both these factors was enough to see the back of him. Sachin went for a blind swish on the on-side and had his stumps shattered for an unimpressive 25. From 52 for 1, Mumbai had collapsed to 70 for 4 in a matter of minutes.
It was not all over for Mumbai though. They still had hope from the likes of Kieron Pollard and JP Duminy while the fact the Punjab hadn’t exactly been finishing off the job appropriately would have been at the back of their minds. This was a different outfit though, determined to deliver the killer blows.
And so, Pathan returned to claim R. Sathish and Pollard, the latter again disappointing, perishing after a couple of good hits. Duminy held fort for Mumbai with his 35, the flick six off Brett Lee being his best stroke. But, Love Abhilash’s wonderful last over in which he picked up two wickets saw Punjab go into the break carrying the momentum.
When they returned, Jayawardene caressed the ball to all parts of the boundary and, in no time, Punjab were off like the kings. With Adrian Barath and Sangakkara also contributing, the home side won by an easy 6-wicket margin despite some disciplined bowling from Mumbai, who lost their second consecutive game. It is too early for Sachin’s men to worry, but another hiccup and one would begin to wonder whether they peaked a little early.
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