Up against Delhi Daredevils, one step off the foot of the table, Punjab produced a splendid batting display with Adam Gilchrist and David Miller in the forefront.
IPL: Punjab and Delhi put on a distracting show
DELHI 164-7 (20ov)
PUNJAB 171-4 (20ov)
Toss Punjab, chose to field
Delhi Daredevils Rohrer 49; Jayawardene 39; S Sharma 3-23, Chawla 2-44
Kings Xi Punjab Marsh 45, Miller 44, Gilchrist 42; Nehra 2-38
Man of the match David Miller (Punjab)
The pall of gloom cast by another spot-fixing scandal was temporarily lifted by a popular, if nervy, home win at one of cricket's more scenic venues. The HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala was hardly packed to the rafters, but that seemed to matter little as a rejuvenated Kings XI Punjab kept their slender Indian Premier League play-off hopes alive with a seven-run win.
Up against Delhi Daredevils, one step off the foot of the table, Punjab produced a splendid batting display with Adam Gilchrist and David Miller in the forefront. They then choked Delhi early on with their assortment of pacers.
Asked to make first use of a surface with plenty of pace and bounce, Punjab rode on a frenetic start provided by Gilchrist, back in superb touch after his early season travails, and an explosive late charge from Miller to post 171 for four.
Sandeep Sharma then conjured a double-wicket in his first over, including the prize of David Warner first ball. Virender Sehwag, batting at No 5, threatened briefly. Mahela Jayawardene resembled an actor who had completely fluffed his lines for three-fourths of his innings.
Enter Ben Rohrer, with 111 required for victory from 56 deliveries. He single-handedly threatened to spoil Punjab's party, smashing 49 off just 29 deliveries with four fours and three sixes, but when the otherwise profligate Piyush Chawla castled him with the first delivery of the final over when 22 were required for victory, Dharamsala heaved a sigh of relief.
Delhi had unleashed an all-pace attack in deference to the conditions, but while their planning was immaculate, the execution was anything but.
Delhi did not help their cause when Umesh Yadav at third man put down a screamer as Gilchrist lashed a wide delivery from Morne Morkel flat but extremely hard. Ashish Nehra suffered most at Gilchrist's hands, smashed for three fours and two sixes in two overs as Punjab reached 53 without loss in the first six overs.
For some strange reason, Marsh suddenly lost his timing and when Gilchrist was caught trying one big stroke too many after an opening stand of 60, the innings hit a roadblock.
Only 50 runs came in the next nine overs as Delhi pulled things back brilliantly. However, Miller tore into them, smashing sixes at will and putting on 47 in just 21 deliveries with the enterprising R Sathish. The last five overs yielded 68, as Punjab managed to keep play-off hopes alive.
R Kaushik is a senior editor at Wisden India.
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