An unbeaten partnership of 128 for the fourth wicket between Mandeep Singh and David Miller ensured that Kings XI Punjab chased down an imposing total of 185 with a ball to spare in the return leg between the two teams in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
With this win, Punjab move up to fifth place in the points table, while Pune slip to eighth.
No Punjab batsman had scored a half-century in the tournament before this match; Mandeep and Miller got that tally up to two, and in emphatic fashion.
Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist, in desperate need of some runs, started off on a positive note, pulling Bhuvneshwar Kumar for four on the second ball of the innings. The next ball was short and wide, and Gilly went for the big slash, but only found the edge that was lapped up by Robin Uthappa behind the sticks.
Azhar Mahmood, sent on pinch-hitting duties at one-down, didn’t last more than four ball as Ajantha Mendis trapped the all-rounder leg-before. Punjab had lost two wickets for just five runs and, as usual, were put on the backfoot straight away.
In the next five overs, Mandeep and Manan Vohra made it 55 for two with an array of aggressive strokes. Yuvraj Singh was brought into the attack for the seventh over and struck straight away. Vohra moved to his right and tried the slog-sweep off the left-arm spinner, but misjudged the line and left his stumps open to be shattered.
Punjab were 58 for three at this stage and still a long way away from the finish line. David Miller was promoted up the order, ahead of David Hussey, to join Mandeep. At the time, it would have seemed an foolish move, with Hussey perhaps being the only Punjab batsman in good form.
But the decision was justified eventually, and how! Punjab’s M&Ms — Mandeep and Miller — stole the game away from the Warriors and got Punjab home with one ball to spare.
The way the duo found the gaps, you’d think Pune had only five fielders on the green. Mandeep hardly ever played a cross-batted shot in his innings of 77 not out from 58 balls, including seven boundaries. Miller, meanwhile, outscored his partner after coming in three slots below him. The South African blazed his way to an unbeaten 80 off just 41 balls, studded with five fours and as many sixes.
With 16 to win from the last over, Luke Wright conceded just two singles off the first two balls. Fourteen to win from four balls and Miller got the width and spanked it over long-on for six. After some good running, a second run was stolen off the fourth ball after Miller creamed the ball to straight to long-off. Six to win off the last two balls and Miller doesn’t leave it till the last delivery and spanks it over long-off again to send the PCA stadium into delirium.
Wright, who was one of the heroes for Pune in the first innings in his first game this season, didn’t know what had hit him, much like the rest of his teammates who have featured in one too many defeats like these.
Brief Scores: Pune Warriors India 185 for 4 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 64, Robin Uthappa 37, Yuvraj Singh 34, Luke Wright 34; Azhar Mahmood 2 for 42) lost to Kings XI Punjab 186 for 3 in 19.5 overs (David Miller 80*, Mandeep Singh 77*; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1 for 31) by 7 wickets.