On a batsman-friendly pitch at Mohali, Punjab Kings XI got themselves into a winning position chasing Rajasthan Royals’ imposing total of 183, courtesy a whirlwind start. Kumar Sangakkara, opening the innings, smashed an amazing 29 from 13 balls while Manvinder Bisla was even more astonishing, scoring 35 from 18 balls.
But, once Bisla was dismissed by Shane Warne, Punjab completely fell apart. From an impressive 85 for one in the eight over, they collapsed to 115 for 5 in the 13, the loss of Irfan Pathan taking the match well out of their reach.
Punjab’s batting effort was in complete contrast to Rajasthan’s innings, earlier in the evening. After losing the toss and being invited to bat, they made an extremely confident start for a change. Michael Lumb, from whom skipper Warne had great hopes, did not let his captain down.
Against a bowling attack which seemed low on confidence right from the start, Lumb was in his elements. Irfan Pathan, as in the earlier games, was wayward and the opener took full advantage of it, striking a number of boundaries using the width offered. The other left-arm seamer, Shalabh Srivastava, also went for plenty, nullifying the good work done by Juan Theron, who was impressive once again, keeping the ball in exactly the right areas.
Theron’s effort, though, was overshadowed by Rajasthan’s royal batting performance. After Lumb was smarty dismissed, stumped by Piyush Chawla for a well-made 41, Faiz Fazal once again proved his mettle in the middle overs. In partnership, first with Yusuf Pathan (28) and later with Adam Voges (45*), Fazal ensured that Rajasthan’s great start was not negated.
The beauty of his batting was that he picked the gaps in the field taking minimal risks. And even when he went for the boundaries, more often than not, he ensured that it was a calculated shot and not a mere slog. Fazal was unluckily run out by Chawla for 45, but his knock set up things perfectly for Voges.
The hard-hitting Australian found the boundaries without much trouble against Irfan and Srivastava. And when Kumar Sangakkara tried out Yuvraj Singh belatedly, he too was given similar treatment. Voges’ knock meant Royals had the cushion of an extra few runs in case the bowling wasn’t top notch. Punjab, themselves, did not help their cause being shabby in the field right throughout.
Putting the disappointing bowling and fielding effort behind them, they did make a sparkling start to their case. Sangakkara led from the front, taking both Munaf Patel and Shaun Tait head on. However, the innings did not last long enough and Tait got the better of him with a short ball, which he fended away and was caught near the boundary line.
In came Bisla and went all guns blazing from ball one. Neither Tait for Patel had any answer to his stand and deliver tactics. And, when Warne came on, he did not hesitate to go down the track and hit him into the stands. The veteran leg spinner had the last laugh though. Like Sangakkara, Bisla’s innings also promised a lot, but lasted only a while longer than his skipper. And therein lay Punjab’s problem.
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