Kings XI Punjab 193-4 (Valthaty 120no) beat
Chennai Super Kings 188-4 (Vijay 74) by 6 wickets
Indian Premier League 2011, Chandigarh
The Indian Premier League has once again given the stage for a young player to star in exalted company and Paul Valthaty, who stroked a sublime century to guide the Kings XI Punjab to a magnificent six-wicket victory over reigning champions the Chennai Super Kings, took his opportunity with both hands.
He hit 19 fours and two sixes on his way to a match-winning 120 not out in just 63 balls to help the Kings XI Punjab make a stiff target of 189 look easy.
The match was won in the same style that Valthaty had batted when Dinesh Karthik hoisted a six over long-on with five balls remaining.
Chennai had no answers to Valthaty's assault and although they chipped away with wickets at the other end, he offered no chances to them and meted out punishment that Chennai have hardly known since they began a golden run of form that saw them sweep to double IPL and Champions League glory in 2010.
Tim Southee, Albie Morkel and Suraj Randiv all picked up a wicket apiece but they were powerless in the face of one of the finest innings that the tournament has ever seen. Those lucky enough to have a view from the opposite end of the pitch as dismissed batsman were Adam Gilchrist (19), Shaun Marsh (12), Sunny Singh (20) and Abhishek Nayar (0) while Karthik, who ended things so powerfully, was unbeaten on 21 in 11 balls.
Earlier, Kings XI made an excellent start to the match, stunning the champions when Praveen Kumar removed Anirudha Srikkanth and Suresh Raina for golden ducks with the first two balls of the match; perhaps he was taking inspiration from Lasith Malinga, who struck first ball yesterday for the Mumbai Indians, but anything he could do, Kumar did better.
Chennai, a team whose strength in depth attracts envious glances, had the resources available to them to recover, and they did so with aplomb thanks to a century partnership between Murali Vijay, who made 74 in 43 balls and Subramaniam Badrinath, who struck 66 not out in 56 balls.
After VIjay fell to leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, Mahendra Singh Dhoni led Chennai's late charge with 43 in 20 balls, hitting four fours and two sixes before he was bowled by Ryan Harris.
Kings XI thus began and ended their bowling spell with wickets but Chennai, with a score of 188 for four, ought still to have been safe but that reckoned without the stunning performance of Valthaty, who first put the Kings XI in a strong position, then took them to a winning position and, showing maturity beyond his years, ensured they stayed there and got the job done by remaining not out.
© Cricket World 2011