Durban: Man-of-the-match Muttiah Muralitharan led the Chennai Super Kings to a 24-run victory over the Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League on Wednesday.
Defending a small total of 116-9, Muralitharan put Punjab’s batsman under constant pressure with his accurate and spinning deliveries to end with figures of 2-8 in four overs as Punjab limped to 92-8.
Offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, playing in his first match of the series, claimed 2-13 in four overs while Suresh Raina ended with 2-17. Opening bowler Thilan Thushara gave Chennai a good start, taking 2-28 in his four overs.
“The spinners did a good job for us,” said Chennai captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni. “We picked Ashwin today and he was brilliant throughout. Murali put pressure on the opposition and Raina also bowled well.”
Punjab’s chase was shaky from the start and only Luke Pomersbach seemed up to the challenge, top-scoring with 26.
“We had a decent start, we just needed to get a partnership going,” said Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh. “We didn’t get partnerships going and the wicket was not easy to bat on.”
But Singh admitted that his team had batted badly after the bowlers had given the team a good platform.
“When you get in such strong positions you need to nail the opposition,” Singh said.
Punjab lost Sunny Sohal for three in the first over after Parthiv Patel held on to a good catch off a Thushara delivery.
Simon Katich then played across the line and exposed his stumps to be bowled by Muralitharan in the seventh over for eight. Suresh Raina then took a splendid catch in the slips off Muralitharan to dismiss Pomersbach in the 12th over to leave Punjab on 45-3.
Punjab lost another big wicket when Singh was bowled by Raina for six.
Kumar Sangakkara made seven runs before Ashwin caught him off his own bowling in the 16th over. Ashwin then trapped Wilkin Mota lbw with a full ball in the same over to pile Punjab’s misery.
Brett Lee on six was well caught at long on by Jacob Oram off Raina, then Irfan Pathan’s wild swing found Jacob Oram at mid off from a Thushara ball to effectively condemn Punjab to defeat.
Earlier, Punjab had displayed some brilliant fielding to reduce Chennai to 116-9.
Pace bowler Sree Santh was the pick of their bowlers with 2-23 in four overs, while fellow seamer Irfan Pathan bagged 2-32.
Brett Lee, who sharpened the Punjab bowling attack after recovering from injury, backed up the duo with excellent pace variation to concede just 16 runs in his four overs but failed to take a wicket.
Parthiv Patel top-scored for Chennai with 32 runs.