Pune Warriors 120 for 5 beat Kings XI Punjab 119 for 8 by five wickets
Man of the match: Rahul Sharma
After a massive struggle, the Pune Warriors on Sunday ended their seven match losing streak by defeating Kings XI Punjab, who was themselves struggling to win too much. The five wicket loss meant that Punjab are slowly but surely catching up with Pune’s unenviable record. While Pune had lost seven, Punjab have so far extended their losing streak to five. Yet again, it was Pune’s lanky legspinner Rahul Sharma, who was the standout performer, and he eventually stood out as the difference between the two sides. For a change, he found some good support too in the form of Proteas fast bowler Wayne Parnell and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which helped Pune restrict the Kings XI to a below par 119.
Things did not look as bad for Punjab at the start of the innings as Paul Valthaty managed to pierce the off side boundary on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, their skipper Adam Gilchrist had another bad day in the office. While he hadn’t got off the mark in the last two innings, he managed just three in eight balls before failing to Rahul, trying to hit him out. Valthaty also failed to convert his starting, also succumbing to Rahul. Trying to cut a slightly shorter one, he failed to ride the bounce top edged one, handing a simple catch to the backward point fielder.
Shaun Marsh came in and once again batted with a sense of purpose, proving why he has been Punjab most efficient batsman in the IPL 2011. He played some wonderful strokes against the spinners in action. He lofted Yuvraj Singh over long-on, drove Rahul through the covers and even pulled Mitchell Marsh for a four. At the other end, he had Dinesh Karthik for company. The former India keeper wasn’t timing the ball as well as Marsh. Still, he hung around with the Australian and saw it to that by the end of 10 overs Punjab had laid a decent platform.
All the good work was wasted though as neither of them could capitalise on their starts. Marsh fell trying to slam a slower delivery from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, but only managed to drag it back onto the stumps. Another Aussie was the next wicket to fall for Punjab. David Hussey tickled one to the keeper without having scored much as Punjab collapsed to 94 for 4. Karthik was still around, but he couldn’t go much. Wickets kept falling and Punjab were eventually strangled to 119.
To make a comeback, Punjab bowlers had to put up an exceptional effort. Things began well, with Praveen Kumar starting of with a maiden over. However, the floodgates soon opened as Punjab messed it up in the field. Jesse Ryder was dropped by Valthaty in the fourth over while Manish Pandey escaped a plumb lbw decision. When a couple of wickets fell, Robin Uthappa came in and threw his bat around like a millionaire. He slammed 22 and Pandey contributed 28 before falling. And if Punjab had any faint hopes post their dismissal, skipper Yuvraj Singh put paid to them with some monstrous hits as Pune ended their losing streak.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 128 for 1 beat Kochi Tuskers Kerala 125 for 9 by nine wickets
Man of the match: Chris Gayle
One over was all that was needed to decide the fate of the match between the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kochi Tuskers Kerala. And that decisive over was bowled by Prasanth Parameswaran to guess who but Chris Gayle. 37 runs came of the over as the Kochi Tuskers were not expectedly stunned.
The over began by Parameswaran landing one on a length, which Gayle easily lifted over cover for a six. Trying to improvise, Parameswaran bowled the next ball a slower one. Unfortunately, it was a no ball and Gayle slammed it for six more, making it seven runs off the over. Worse was only to follow. The free hit delivery was slammed through midwicket for a boundary, while the next delivery was slashed through the cover region. Parameswaran’s face had a deplorable look like Stuart Broad had when Yuvraj hit him for six sixes.
The poor treatment to Parameswaran continued as the next ball was dispatched for six over cover and then another maximum, this time over long-off. Battling a lost cause, the bowler sent down a full toss the last delivery and the ball did not meet the blade of Gayle’s bat. Yet, he under edged it for four to give Parameswaran the pasting of a lifetime. Gayle fell for 44, but Tillakaratne Dilshan helped himself to a half century and Bangalore got home by nine wickets and an amazing 6.5 overs to spare. Dilshan hammered 20 in an over from Ramesh Powar to get the chase underway before Gayle took over the show.
Apart from their batting effort, their fielding was equally magnificent. Kochi had got off to a reasonable start, but once Bangalore got the breakthrough wickets kept tumbling as Kochi stumbled from 64 for 1 to 89 for 5 and never recovered from there. Skipper Daniel Vettori got the breakthrough for his team, luring Brendon McCullum into a slash, but fooling him in the length. Parthiv Patel looked in good touching, caressing a few boundaries, but once Gayle yorked Michael Klinger, the game changed. Vettori soon sent back Mahela Jayawardene, forcing him to edge one.
Then the great Bangalore fielding show began. Brad Hodge placed one behind point and charged down the track. Patel responded initially before realising there was never a run there. It was all too late by them though. AB de Villiers pounced onto a fierce throw, took him left handed and aimed it at the stumps, while still in an acrobatic stage. Zaheer Khan bettered his effort, pulling off a one handed stunner at short fine leg. Hodge had struck S Aravind off the hips and the ball was heading towards the fence when Zaheer lunged full length and took possession of it with minimal fuss.
Kochi eventually crumbed to 125, far from enough with the kind of form Chris Gayle and Dilshan were in on Sunday.