Yuvraj cameo sees Pune through

Yuvraj Singh scored a breezy 35 off 15 balls, which included five boundaries and two sixes. AFP

By Suneer Chowdhary

Mohali: May 8, 2011

Pune chased down a paltry 120 to restrict their losing streak to seven games, beating Punjab by five wickets at Mohali. Punjab should have got much more than what they finally did, especially after the start that they had got but a middle-order collapse pushed them to a lowly 119 for eight in their 20 overs.

120 was never going to trouble any team on an easy pitch.

Praveen Kumar began with a maiden but Ryan Harris conceded 10 in the second over. Manish Pandey edged one to the fence before forehand-pulling one to the mid-wicket fence.

At the other end, Jesse Ryder got onto his bike as well, straight-driving and flicking successive balls to the fence.

Ryder s powerful batting continued in the Shalabh Srivastava s first over as well when he drilled one so powerfully to short extra-cover that despite the fielder Paul Valthaty getting a hand to it and slowing it down, the ball still sped away to the fence. Pandey repeated the dose to the same bowler but it was a delectable guide to third-man that was misfielded.

Bhargav Bhatt s very first over could have seen two wickets fall. While Ryder slammed the ball to the fielder at long-on and had to walk away, Pandey was lucky to be called not-out to an lbw shout. The replays showed that the ball would have dislodged the stumps.

Robin Uthappa showed no mercy at the other end, pulling straight and then to the mid-wicket fence for successive boundaries.

With the asking rate never in danger of escalating beyond the realms of the unachievable, once the six-over mark was breached, the Punjab side kept picking up the singles and the odd boundary to push them to 65 for one at the end of the strategic time-out.

Uthappa departed immediately after that, his 22 coming from 18, while Manish Pandey was bowled by Praveen Kumar. With Yuvraj Singh hobbling through the start of his innings and receiving treatment for it, the Kings XI Punjab would have thought that they had a semblance of a chance as Pune needed 35 from the last seven overs.

However, Yuvraj closed out the game for the Warriors in the 15th over, by hitting Bhargav Bhatt for two sixes and two fours. Srivastava had him caught off his bowling but by then, he had completed the job and Callum Ferguson performed the last rites.

On what turned out to be a slower than expected pitch, the King XI Punjab wasted a good start away to fall woefully short of the par-score. Kings XI Punjab made 119 for eight in their 20 overs thanks to a combination of tight Pune bowling and their own misreading of the track.

One got the sense that Punjab were aiming a tad too high and fell woefully short of the required score.

Adam Gilchrist s poor form continued as he swept Rahul Sharma to the mid-wicket fence. Paul Valthaty got off to a quick start, hitting four boundaries in quick time but he cut a quicker one from Rahul Sharma straight into the hands of the backward point to give Sharma his second wicket.

Shaun Marsh began rather well, lofting Yuvraj Singh for a six and followed it up with two boundaries. However, his innings was cut short by an inside-edge to the wicket.

Dinesh Karthik was lucky to survive twice, a run-out chance that went begging and another which saw him just get home.

However, at the other end, David Hussey was consumed by B Kumar and the rest of the side fell away for the addition of 25 runs in the last five and a half overs. 119 was never going to be enough.

Punjab made four changes to their side, getting in Mandeep Singh, Shalabh Srivastava, Sidharth Chitnis and Bhargav Bhatt.

Pune did not select Sourav Ganguly, but had Callum Ferguson, Mitchell Marsh, Wayne Parnell and B Kumar playing for them.

Brief Scores: KXIP 119 for 8 in 20 overs (Shaun Marsh 32, Dinesh Karthik 30, Paul Valthaty 23; Wayne Parnell 2 for 12, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2 for 14, Rahul Sharma 2 for 17, Mitchell Marsh 2 for 26) lost to PWI 120 for 5 in 17.1 overs (Yuvraj Singh 35, Manish Pandey 28, Robin Uthappa 22; Praveen Kumar 1 for 17, Shalabh Srivastava 2 for 20, Ryan Harris 1 for 26) by 5 wickets.

Man of the Match: Rahul Sharma

Full Scorecard

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