Pune Warriors hammer Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets

Pune Warriors hammer Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets

Mumbai: Debutants Pune Warriors commenced their Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with a resounding seven-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab at their home venue -- the D. Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai here tonight.

The Pune outfit owned by Sahara and led by World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh dished out a clinical all-round display to surge to a convincing win with 6.5 overs to spare.

They first restricted Kings XI to 112 for eight, after having left the visitors tottering at 45 for six, and then chased the target with a degree off comfort on the bouncy track.

The run-chase was put on course by a 60-run second wicket stand between Jesse Ryder (31 off 17 balls) and Mithun Manhas (35 in 32 balls) after a first-ball dismissal of Graeme Smith.

Then Robin Uthappa (22 not out in 14 balls) and Yuvraj (21 not out in 15 balls) put on an unbroken stand of 45 runs for the fourth wicket to complete the job in style, both clobbering sixes towards the end to entertain the crowd.

The Punjab outfit would meet last year’s winners Chennai Super Kings at home in Mohali on April 13 and on the same day Pune Warriors will clash against the other new franchise Kochi Tuskers Kerala here.

Earlier, a double strike each by Pune’s opening bowlers Alfonso Thomas and Shrikant Wagh left Punjab staggering at nine for four within the first four overs.

The top four batsmen, including former Australian great Gilchrist, were packed off cheaply by South African Thomas and Wagh and only a late charge by another South African, Ryan McLaren who made a half century, propelled Punjab past the century mark.

All-rounder McLaren made an unbeaten 51 in 43 balls with six fours and a six after coming in at number seven, besides putting on 35 runs in 52 balls with fellow left-hander Piyush Chawla (15), who was the second-highest scorer.

For Pune, 22-year-old Vidarbha left arm seamer Wagh finished with impressive figures of three for 16 while 34-year-old Cape Town-born Thomas picked up two for 27.

Pune started the run-chase on a dismal note by losing opener Smith in the first ball. The South African captain drove Praveen Kumar’s first ball straight into the hands of short cover fielder McLaren.

But any hopes of a collapse like Punjab’s did not happen as Ryder and Manhas batted in a forthright manner to put on 60 runs for the second wicket in 46 balls to put their side well on way to the victory target.

New Zealander Ryder set the tone for the partnership with a slash and stunning straight drive for four off McLaren while Manhas swung leg spinner Piyush Chawla for a four and then smacked him over extra cover for a six in his first over.

Manhas then slashed McLaren for a four to raise the 50 of the innings in 39 balls before the partnership was broken by Nayar, who had the former caught behind chasing a wide ball.

Ryder left eight runs later when his attempted pull off McLaren ended up behind the wicket to raise some hopes of a Punjab fight-back.

Uthappa was let off by Rimmington at deep extra cover off Nayar, a straight forward catch, five runs later.

Yuvraj too was let off on eight at slip off Nayar at the team score of 82 for three and using these largesse the two hard-hitting batsmen ended the match with their unfinished partnership.

Uthappa struck two sixes and a four while Yuvraj hit one six as they remained unconquered at the end.

Earlier, Kings XI made a poor start by losing both their openers inside the first two overs and then their number three and four batsmen within the space of 21 balls.

First to go was captain Gilchrist. Having played very little competitive cricket between the last IPL and the current one barring a stint with Engish country Middlesex, he feathered a catch to wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa while attempting to pull speedster Thomas off the fourth ball.

His opening partner and countryman Shaun Marsh wast the next to depart, flicking left-arm seamer Shrikant Wagh to Rahul Sharma at fine leg in the second over to leave the team tottering at five for the loss of two wickets.

Worse was to follow when Paul Valthaty was caught at point off Alfonso by Ryder after having cover-driven the 34-year-old South African right-arm bowler for a four and then Dinesh Kartik slashed Wagh straight to Sharma at third man.

The top four Punjab batsmen had been cleaned out by their rival opening bowlers with only nine on board in 21 balls.

There was a brief recovery through Sunny Singh and Abhishek Nayar, who escaped when he was caught off a no ball off Murali Kartik, but the former was hopelessly run out for 12 almost immediately following a bad mix-up with his left-handed partner.

At this stage Punjab were tottering at 36 for five which became 45 for six a little later when Nayar was caught at backward point driving at a wide one from Ryder.

The stand between McLaren, who also struck a huge six over the mid wicket area of compatriot Thomas in the penultimate over, and Chawla helped Punjab from being bowled out as well as cross the 100-run mark.