Pune Warriors 113 for 3 beat Kings XI Punjab 112 for 8 by 7 wickets.
Man of the match: Shrikant Wagh
Two unknown quantities came to the fore for Pune Warriors in their debut game at the Indian Premier League as they crushed Kings XI Punjab by 7 wickets and 41 balls to spare at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai. The two gentlemen we are talking about are the Warriors’ opening bowlers – Alfonso Thomas and Shrikant Wagh. They struck four deadly blows in as many overs as Punjab were left reeling at a pathetic 9/4. It all began with the dismissal of Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist, who walked after nicking Thomas behind the wickets. This was in the first over of the game. In the very next over, Wagh had Shaun Marsh caught at short fine leg as Punjab got off to a disastrous start. But things were only to get worse. Paul Valthaty fell to Thomas in the third over and, in the next, the experienced Dinesh Karthik also perished, holing out to third man.
Following the disastrous start, Punjab needed a miracle to recover. But, it wasn’t to be as Sunny Singh and Abhishek Nayar, after hitting a few impressive strokes, also threw their wickets away. Singh’s dismissal was embarrassing with a confusing leading to both players heading to the same end and trying to make their ground safely. And when Nayar fell soon after, presenting a catch to opposition skipper Yuvraj Singh off Jesse Ryder’s bowling, the scorecard read an equally miserable 45 for 6 in the ninth over.
At that stage, it seemed almost certain that Punjab wouldn’t even touch the 100 mark. But, thanks to a fighting effort by Ryan McLaren and some support from Piyush Chawla, they did get there. McLaren judged the situation well and rotated the strike in the company of Chawla, hitting the odd ball to the fence, whenever the rare opportunity came by. But, he did explode towards the end and finished with six fours and a six in his 43-ball 51. Had Chawla stayed with him for longer, they could have got a few more runs. However, when on 15, Wagh came back to break the resistance and have the leggie caught behind. To his credit, Chawla assisted McLaren in pushing the score from 45 to 80. Thanks to the latter, Punjab went into the halfway mark with a brief sense of confidence of at least crossing the three figure mark.
As if to prove that the momentum had indeed shifted, Praveen Kumar sent back Graeme Smith first ball, caught by their star batting performer McLaren. But, the joy was short-lived. Jesse Ryder and Mithun Manhas combined forces to take the attack into the Punjab camp. They were boundary balls on offer almost every over as the pressure eased on the batting side in no time. Both Ryder and Manhas raced into their 30s, but the excitement of finishing the game early led to their downfall. At 68 for 3, Gilchrist’s men still had the faintest of hopes. But Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh combined to hit three big sixes and seal the game in a flash. The early loss of too many wickets had clearly come back to haunt the Kings.
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