Dharamsala: Kings XI Punjab produced a clinical all-round performance to score a comprehensive 29-run win over bottom-placed Delhi Daredevils to keep their play-off hopes alive in the Indian Premier League (IPL) here on Sunday.
The Punjab side first notched up 170 for six after being sent into bat with Paul Valthaty (62) and Shaun Marsh (47) scoring the bulk of the runs and later restricted Delhi to 141 for eight at the picturesque HPCA Stadium.
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Chasing 171 for a win, Delhi felt the absence of captain Virender Sehwag, who had to leave the team for a shoulder surgery, as their batsmen failed to make any substantial contribution. David Warner top-scored with a run-a-ball 29.
Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who was left out of India’s ODI squad for the West Indies tour, grabbed an impressive 3/16 while Shalabh Srivastava took two wickets for 39 runs. Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris and Valthaty chipped in a wicket apiece on a pitch which offered help to pacers and spinners alike.
With the win on Sunday, their third on the trot, KXIP have collected 12 points from 12 matches to remain in the hunt for a top four finish.
The Delhi openers were denied a strong start with the KXIP bowlers sticking to a disciplined line and length and extracting bounce and turn from the pitch.
Naman Ojha (28) and Warner could hit just a four and a six in the first five overs though the former hit two sixes and a four off Srivastava to take 17 runs from the sixth over.
Ojha’s struggle ended in the eighth over as Srivastava had the last laugh by inducing him an outside edge to Gilchrist behind the stumps.
Hard-hitting Warner hit two fours off Valthaty in the ninth over but perished in the next over while trying to accelerate scoring rate.
The Australian danced down the track to hoick a Srivastava delivery only to get the leading edge and ballooned high into the air for Gilchrist to take the catch.
Sridharan Sriram (4) was then done in by a Piyush Chawla googly and the batsman top-edged while attempting a sweep shot for Dinesh Karthik to take the catch.
Karthik was, however, guilty of not taking the catch of Venugopal Rao (16) in the 13th over as he touched the ropes while holding the ball on the air to concede a six.
Venugopal Rao, however, failed to capitalize on the Karthik mistake as he was out next over with Chawla had him holing out to long-off fielder Ryan Harris to take KXIP closer to victory.
Irfan Pathan (3) soon fell to Valthaty before Chawla again was involved in the thick of things by removing Delhi stand-in skipper James Hopes (7).
By the time Hopes was out, the asking rate had shot up to more than 17 an over and Harris produced a spectacular catch near the boundary line to get rid of Travis Birt (16) off the bowling of Praveen Kumar.
Delhi needed 43 runs from the last two overs and even though Morne Morkel took 13 runs by hitting Srivastava for a six and a four it was too late to have any impact.
Earlier, a quickfire 102-run stand for the third wicket between Valthaty (62) and Marsh (47) helped Kings XI Punjab post a challenging 170 for six.
Valthaty hit a 50-ball 62 which was studded with six fours and three sixes while Marsh’s quickfire 47 came from 28 balls with the help of five fours and three sixes.
During his innings, Valthaty went past Royal Challengers Banglore’s Chris Gayle in the most runs scored in the tournament with 438 to take the orange cap.
For Delhi, Irfan Pathan was impressive in his 3/28 from four overs while Aavishkar Salvi chipped in with two wickets.
Captain Adam Gilchrist (9) continued his poor run in form as he was out in the fourth over to a Morne Morkel delivery which he mistimed to lob it to David Warner at mid-on.
Valthaty, who had not done much after his 120 against Chennai early in the tournament, was dropped when on six by Venugopal Rao and he made Delhi pay dear by hitting two consecutive fours off Varun Aaron in the fifth over as KXIP scored to a decent 43 for one at the end of first powerplay.
He then hit a six off Salvi in the eighth over and then followed it up with two hits for maximum results of Delhi stand-in skipper James Hopes to bring up his second fifty of the tournament in 38 balls.
Marsh joined the party by smashing three sixes and a four off Sridharan Sriram as he and Valthaty raised 100 runs in just 62 balls.
Pathan, who has been ordinary so far in the tournament, then struck two vital blows by removing the two set batsmen in two consecutive balls.
First, he induced a top edge to Marsh with a ball that moved away after landing at the off for Morkel to take the catch after running from third man region and end the 102-run stand for the third wicket from 10.5 overs.
Another KXIP wicket could have fallen in the form of new man Dinesh Karthik but Delhi wicketkeeper Naman Ojha failed to take a simple catch and conceded a boundary.
David Hussey and Mandeep Singh were out in the 17th and 18th overs, the latter becoming Pathan’s third victim after hitting the bowler two consecutive boundaries.
Karthik, the hero of KXIP in their win over Kochi Tuskers Kerala in their last match, fell in the final over bowled by Salvi after hitting two fours.