Pune’s all-round performance was too much for Punjab to handle
The Pune Warriors continued to show that they are a team not to be taken lightly in this year’s IPL, as they sunk the Kings XI Punjab by 22 runs to hand them their second straight defeat.
Coming off a stunning win against the Mumbai Indians, where they defended a mere total of 129, the Warriors, showcased more of the same team effort against the Kings XI Punjab.
Playing for the first time in their newly built stadium, the Warriors captain, Sourav Ganguly, gave fans something to cheer about even before the match had started, as he won the toss and elected to bat first.
Ganguly, along with New Zealand import, Jesse Ryder, opened the batting for the Warriors, as both men hoped to establish a strong first wicket partnership.
Things were looking very promising in the first couple of overs in the match, as Ganguly, was middling the ball, and scoring at a blistering rate, while Ryder on the other hand, was looking a little less comfortable at the crease.
With Pune scoring 28 runs in the first 23 balls of the match, things were looking extremely good, but, on the last ball of the fourth over, Sourav Ganguly, failed to pick up on a slower ball by Dimitri Mascarenhas, and ended up spooning a simple catch to Paul Valthaty at mid-off, bringing a close to his innings on 20 runs.
Five deliveries later, Pune were dealt another major blow, as Ryder, who had been struggling to find his rhythm at the crease, was run out after Marlon Samuels, who was the new batsman at the crease, tapped a delivery into the off side and called for a quick single, only to see Ryder fall short of making his ground, since Praveen Kumar had scored a direct hit.
With Ryder being dismissed after making only eight runs, Robin Uthappa, joined Marlon Samuels at the crease.
Samuels and Uthappa, did an excellent job of steadying the Pune innings, while also maintaining a healthy run rate.
Together, the pair kept the runs flowing with some fantastic communication, while also hitting boundaries at regular intervals.
Samuels and Uthappa, brought up their fifty partnership in almost no time at all, and looked to be unstoppable, which explained the worried look forming on the face of Punjab’s captain, Adam Gilchrist.
With the Punjab bowlers continuing to leak runs at an alarming rate, Samuels and Uthappa were looking to convert their fifty partnership into a century.
However, this was not to be the case, as Samuels had his stumps rearranged by Harmeet Singh, when trying to heave a delivery towards the midwicket region, ending the partnership on 81, at a run rate of 7.96, and his innings on 46 from 39 balls, in which he cracked four boundaries and two massive sixes.
Samuels, was named the Man of the Match for his outstanding innings, and said: “The crowd were really good, it has been good playing with Pune Warriors. The ball was skidding on and we got an imposing total on board. We need to play hard cricket and that was what was discussed in the team meeting. First time we have had this atmosphere and it can’t get any better than this.”
Nine deliveries later, Harmeet Singh struck again, only this time, taking a smart caught and bowled to get rid of new batsman, Callum Ferguson on three.
Pune, lost yet another wicket just 11 runs later, as Uthappa, who was looking promising to reach his half century, was comprehensively bowled on 40 off 33 balls, during which he hit two boundaries and two sixes as well, by a leg cutter to give Harmeet Singh his third wicket
Australian all-rounder, Steven Smith and Manish Pandey, gave Pune a last minute spark of life, as they put together an astounding partnership of 34 runs from just eight balls, at an unbelievable run rate of 25.50, before Smith was cleaned bowled by James Faulkner, after attempting a cheeky flick down towards the fine leg region.
Smith’s innings of 25 runs from 12 deliveries, during which he only dealt in sixes, thumping three of them, helped Pune drastically, as they finished on 166.
Harmeet Singh was the star of the Punjab bowling attack, taking three wickets, while James Faulkner and Dimitri Mascarenhas both picked up a wicket each as well.
Set a target of 167 to win, the Punjab openers, Paul Valthaty and Adam Gilchrist, were determined to make a solid start to the innings.
However, after scoring just seven runs, Punjab lost their first wicket, when Valthaty sacrificed his wicket and was run out on just one run, after a terrible miscommunication with Gilchrist.
Two runs later, Pune struck again, when Mandeep Singh hit a delivery into the short midwicket region, where Steven Smith picked up the ball and threw it to Robin Uthappa, who whipped the bails off in a flash, catching Gilchrist well short of his crease.
Mandeep Singh and Abhishek Nayar, steadied the Punjab innings, after the loss of both opening batsmen early into the innings.
Together, the pair pushed the ball into the gaps and hit boundaries regularly to give Punjab the push they needed.
But, once the pair’s partnership entered into the fourties, the Warriors were rewarded with another wicket, when Mandeep Singh failed to pick up an off cutter bowled by Jesse Ryder, and ended up edging the ball straight to the wicketkeeper.
Nayar and David Hussey produced a quick 25 run partnership at a run rate of 7.89, before Nayar was dismissed after trying to go aerial over the midwicket region, but failed to get enough bat on it, as Ganguly completed a simple catch.
Just nine runs later, Punjab lost another wicket, as David Hussey, was clean bowled by Rahul Sharma for 18.
Piyush Chawla added 16 runs off eight deliveries, during which he hammered two boundaries and a six, before he was caught at long-on, when trying to clear the boundary once again.
Punjab’s hopes of winning were further dashed, when Dimitri Mascarenhas, was also caught at long-on after making just five runs.
Bipul Sharma meanwhile, was trying his best to get Punjab as close to their target as possible, smashing boundary after boundary.
However, he was down to his last partner after James Faulkner was dismissed on three runs when being caught by Ganguly at extra cover.
When the last over of Punjab’s innings came about, they needed 36 runs to win, however, after only managing to salvage another 13 runs, Pune started celebrating their 22 run victory.
Bipul Sharma’s valiant 35 runs off only 18 deliveries, in which he blasted three boundaries and two huge sixes, had ensured that Punjab were not beaten by a larger margin of victory.
Rahul Sharma was the pick of the Pune bowlers, taking two wickets, while Ashok Dinda, Marlon Samuels, Ashish Nehra and Jesse Ryder, all picked a wicket each.
Punjab captain, Adam Gilchrist, was disappointed with his teams performance in both the batting and bowling departments, and said: “We gave away 30 runs too many and ten minutes of madness toward the end of our bowling and bad calls towards the start of our batting cost us the game. We need to train hard and turn it around. We can go through a form slump in this kind of long tournament and our prime purpose is to arrest it and make a comeback.”
Pune captain, Sourav Ganguly, was pleased to keep his winning streak alive, and said: “We bowled well and also batted well towards the end. The late onslaught took us to 160 plus but it was certainly a 150 pitch. The crowd were fantastic and it has been the case in the IPL. Still a long way to go in the tournament.”
With Pune now recording two wins in two games, they will be hoping to make it three in a row, while Punjab will be regrouping and reorganising when the two teams face each other in a rematch on April 12 in Mohali.