Jayawardene propels Kochi to 178

Kochi captain Mahela Jayawardene plays a shot agaisnt Punjab during their IPL match at Indore AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Indore: May 13, 2011

For a ground that had last hosted an international three years back, the Holkar cricket ground in Indore produced a very high-scoring pitch. The Kings XI Punjab did not help their own cause by bowling 19 wides in the innings, the highest in any of the games this season and by the time the Tuskers had finished their 20 overs, they had got to 178 for seven.

It was probably 15 runs short of what they should have got after the kind of start they got, but it is a target that Punjab will have to fight hard to achieve.

Punjab fielded first after winning the toss, a decision prompted by the possibility of later dew and the weakening of the bowling department due to the absence of Praveen Kumar.

The move seemed to have backfired. From the very first over of the game, when Mahela Jayawardene flicked and edged two away to the fence, it all went downhill for the Punjab bowlers.

Jayawardene continued to exhibit a little more form than he has in the entire season by lofting Bhargav Bhatt over mid-on in the second over before clattering the same bowler in the same region for a six.

Brendon McCullum got going with a swipe over the mid-wicket in the third over before sharing a couple of boundaries with his captain in the sixth over to take the score along to 62 for no loss in six overs.

Ryan Harris, brought for another spell after the fielding restrictions ended, did not cut the ice either. McCullum had got his eye in by then, as he charged the bowler and smashed him to the long-off for a six before following up with a pull over square-leg for another six.

There were those rare moments when the Tuskers were not scoring those big boundaries but Punjab compensated by sending down wides which went to the fence.

It was only in the ninth over that Bipul Sharma finally got the better of McCullum. The umpire declared the batsman out on a sweep even as there were doubts of the ball hitting the bat before it hit the pads.

Ravindra Jadeja was promoted to three and he had a six and a four interspersing a collection of dot balls and a strong appeal for a caught-behind that he survived. However, he was soon declared lbw by the umpire off Chawla. The replays showed that he may have been a tad unlucky.

Brad Hodge did not last very long even as Jayawardene got to his half-century with a lofted six over long-off, bringing out a nonchalant shrug from the bowler, Chawla, as well.

It was during this period that the fall of wickets for Kochi also brought about a corresponding fall in the run-rate as well. Jayawardene lost the strike, Kochi lost the wickets and only 21 runs came in the four overs between 13 and 16.

The lull did not last too long. Playing in his first game, Owais Shah hit sixes in successive overs and while he was run-out while going for an improbable second run, his 12-ball 23 had done the job.

Jayawardene was run-out off the last ball of the innings for 76 (52 balls) and with Kochi getting only seven off the last over, Punjab needed to get to 179 for a win.

It was an interesting choice of bowling for the two sides. Kochi went in with four medium-pace bowlers, R Vinay Kumar, RP Singh, P Parameswaran and S Sreesanth. Contrastingly, Punjab had Bipul Sharma, Chawla and Bhatt as three spin bowlers.

Brief scores: KTK 178 for seven in 20 overs (Mahela Jayawardene 76*, Brendon McCullum 32; Bipul Sharma 2 for 32, Piyush Chawla 1 for 30) vs KXIP

(Suneer is a Mumbai-based cricket writer and can be contacted at suneerchowdhary@gmail.com and Tweets here @suneerchowdhary)