It was a high scoring game, worthy of a final. Batting first, the Chennai Super Kings plundered 188 for 4 despite losing Srikkant Anirudha and Suresh Raina off the first two balls of the innings. They recovery was thanks to a superb counter attacking partnership between Subramaniam Badrinath and Murali Vijay and the expected late onslaught from skipper M S Dhoni. At the halfway stage, the Super Kings would have been extremely confident of victory. However, the Kings XI Punjab found their own king in Paul Valthaty, who singled handedly changed the fortunes of the game, playing one of the best T20 knocks ever. His numbers said it. He slammed an unbeaten 120 in 63 balls, which comprised of 19 fours and 2 sixes and undid all the good work of Chennai’s batsmen.
It was a surprise to see Valthaty open the innings with skipper Adam Gilchrist. However, by the end of the game, everyone knew why. Such was the ferocity of his attack that even Gilchrist reduced to a mere spectator in the wake of the Valthaty onslaught. The Mumbai lad was severe on each and every bowler. Ravichandran Ashwin, who is normally economical, was swept with ease and slammed on the on side as Punjab began in a rollicking fashion. Last match hero, Tim Southee was also taken for plenty was Valthaty, while Albie Morkel’s innocuous medium pacers were pulled and lofted with disdain. 61 were added for the opening wicket inside the first six overs, with Gilchrist’s contribution being a mere 19 before he perished to Morkel.
The rest of the batsmen came in and played decent cameos to assist Valthaty, not that he need much support from the other. He continued on his merry ways as the slow bowling of Shadab Jakati and Surav Randiv were introduced. Both were given severe treatments, slammed through the off side field. Dhoni tried everything, but for a change, nothing worked in his favour. Even the experienced Scott Styris was hit for the maximum. Even as Sunny Singh and Abhishek Nayar fell in quick succession, Valthaty was not deterred. He continued hitting out against Morkel in his second spell and took 17 from an over that literally sealed the game.
Valthaty completed his century off a mere 52 deliveries and, in the company of Dinesh Karthik, who also slammed a couple of crucial big hits to take Punjab home. The victory ensured that Praveen Kumar’s effort of two wickets in two balls did not go in vain. At one stage it did seem that it would be the case as Vijay and Badrinath laid a solid foundation. The former using power play and the latter his magical timing. They added well over a hundred in no time and gave the perfect opportunity to Dhoni to blast away, who did exactly that. However, it was Valthaty who made sure that Punjab eventually had the last laugh.
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