Dharamsala: Rohit Sharma’s breezy unbeaten 68 overshadowed Mahela Jayawardene’s sparkling knock as defending champions Deccan Chargers pipped Kings XI Punjab by five wickets to keep alive their semifinal hopes in the Indian Premier League on Friday.
Chasing a 175-run victory target, the Chargers fumbled and faltered but Rohit stayed till the end to guide the side to 178 for five in 19.1 overs.
Rohit’s eighth IPL fifty was the cornerstone of Deccan Chargers’ win as the defending champions recorded their seventh victory in 13 matches to jump to the fourth place in the points table.
Rohit’s unbeaten 38-ball knock included six fours and three sixes.
Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene (93 not out) starred in two identical 86-run stands with skipper Kumar Sangakkara (52 of 37 balls) and Yuvraj Singh (20) to power Kings XI Punjab to 174 for three.
Deccan began the tricky chase on an unconvincing note, losing skipper Adam Gilchrist (9) in the second over sent down by Irfan Pathan when Juan Theron took a skier at extra cover.
T Suman (43 of 31 balls) then added 41 runs for the second wicket with Monish Mishra (20) and another 66 with Rohit to steady the innings as Deccan put their chase back on track.
Deccan Chargers’ Rohit Sharma receives man of match trophy by Himachal Pradesh chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal during the IPL3 match at International Cricket Stadium in Dharamshala on Friday. Manvender Vashist/PTI
Aware of the task at hand, Rohit began rather gingerly, playing balls according to merit. Suman, on the other hand, kept clearing the ropes, hitting Theron, Irfan Pathan and Yuvraj Singh for massive sixes before Piyush Chawla got the better of him in the 14th over.
Next man in Andrew Symonds (4) didn’t last longer but Rohit grew strong in confidence. The right-hander hit Shalabh Srivastava for what was the 500th six of the IPL, which was preceded by a boundary.
Srivastava was hit over the ropes in his next over as well as Rohit looked in imperious form and he stayed put till the last ball to see them home.
Earlier put into bat, the Punjab side lost opener Shaun Marsh in the first over but the 86-run stand between Sangakkara and Jayawardene shored up the innings.
Jayawardene cashed in on the live he got when batting on 21 and provided the late charge with an unbeaten 62-ball knock studded with 13 fours and two sixes.
Deccan Chargers captain Adam Gilchrist played safe on an unpredictable pitch, asking Kings XI Punjab to bat first and as if to justify the decision, Ryan Harris struck in the very first over.
Kings XI Punjab: 174 for 3 in 20 overs.
Deccan Chargers: 178 for 5 in 19.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 68, T Suman 43; Yuvraj Singh 1/22).