Pune Warriors made an impressive start to their Indian Premier League campaign, beating Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets at Mumbai.
It was a comprehensive all-round show and it never seemed that the Yuvraj Singh-led side were playing only their first match of this stellar tournament.
Kings XI were led by Adam Gilchrist, drafted over from Deccan Chargers in this year’s auction, and they elected to bat first after winning the toss. But it was a horrible start for them, continuing perhaps from the woes of last year, as Pune struck in the very first over itself.
Alfonso Thomas got Gilchrist and Shrikant Wagh, moving on from Rajasthan Royals, had Shaun Marsh caught. Both batsmen scored only one run each. The situation worsened when Paul Valthaty played a bad shot to Thomas and then Dinesh Karthik slashed one to the third man, both out caught. The score read nine for four in only the 4th over.
Abhishek Nayar and Sunny Singh then got a partnership of sorts going, adding 27 runs for the fifth wicket. They were precious runs and both showed intent of staying at the wicket. But Sunny was run-out shabbily and Kings fans feared the worst at 36 for five.
Nine runs later Nayar too departed driving a wide delivery on the up, out caught for 12 runs. Sunny too made 12 runs. It brought Ryan Mclaren to the crease and he held the innings together with a superb half century under pressure.
His 51 not out off 43 balls, including six fours and one six, helped Kings to cross the hundred-run mark from a hopeless situation early on. He was aided by Piyush Chawla who withstood the brunt of the Pune attack for 28 deliveries and scored 15 very important runs. Kings ended their innings at 112 for eight and batted out their overs.
Set 113 to chase, Kings’ only hope lay in early and successive wickets. They were nearly obliged as Graeme Smith hit the first ball from Praveen Kumar straight to Ryan McLaren. But from then on, Mithun Manhas and Jesse Ryder calmed nerves and kept scoring at regular intervals.
They put on 60 runs for the second wicket in nearly eight overs. Manhas scored 35 off 32 balls including five fours and one six, while Ryder’s 31 came off 17 balls with the help of six boundaries. They fell in quick succession though, in the space of eight runs and four balls, but even at 68 for three in the ninth over, Pune were a long way away from defeat.
Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa then hit out and showed the world why Pune could be a force to be reckoned with even if this is their inaugural year in the tournament. Both batsmen remained unbeaten, scored quickfire twenties, and their innings ended only in 13.1 overs.
© Cricket World 2011