x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Manhas credits bowlers for Pune Warriors debut IPL victory

The Indian Premier League newcomers restrict Kings XI to 112 for eight before Yuvraj Singh hits the winning runs.

It is early days and Kings XI Punjab have only played one game, but the team owners probably regret their decision not to retain any of their players from the last three seasons.

They could have held on to Mahela Jayawardene, the man who scored that classy century in the World Cup final; the Sri Lankan now leading Kochi, landing the highest bid by any foreign player in the January auctions.

They even allowed Yuvraj Singh, a Chandigarh native, to leave. He was picked up by the Pune Warriors, the Indian Premier League's (IPL's) most expensive franchisee, and went on to finish as the player of the tournament at the World Cup.

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To make it worse, Yuvraj captained the Warriors to a comfortable seven-wicket win over his former team last night, smashing the winning boundary after his bowlers had restricted Punjab 112 for eight.

"The credit goes to the bowlers," Mithun Manhas, who top scored for Pune, said in a post-match television interview. "They were fantastic and laid the foundation for us."

Kings XI, who finished bottom last year, made a disastrous start, losing four wickets with only nine on the board. Ryan McLaren, a former Mumbai Indian, lifted the gloom with a doughty, unbeaten 51.

Praveen Kumar then lifted Punjab's spirits even further with the first-ball dismissal of Graeme Smith, but Jesse Ryder (31) and Manhas (36) dashed their hopes with a 60-run partnership for the second wicket.

Apart from McLaren, it was a disappointing performance for Kings XI, both with the bat and in the field, where they dropped two easy chances, one each off Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj.

While batting, they lost Adam Gilchrist, their captain, off the fourth ball of the match giving Alfonso Thomas a dream IPL debut.

Gilchrist, as he did right through his glittering international career for Australia, walked after gloving a sharp bouncer from Thomas.

"It was really enjoyable," said Thomas, who took two for 27 from four overs.

"Obviously making my debut for Pune, a new team, and it went well.

"The guys kept it nice and simple. If we are really harsh on ourselves, we probably let it slip a little bit. But yeah, we pretty much would have taken 112 before the match."

Shaun Marsh, whose father, Geoff, is the Pune coach, went in the second over, flicking Shrikant Wagh to Rahul Sharma at short fine-leg and the Kings XI were two down for five after just eight balls.

Two more wickets, Paul Valthaty and Dinesh Karthik, followed in the next two overs and Punjab had lost their top four batsmen without reaching double figures.

McLaren arrived at the fall of the fifth wicket, on 36, and scored 51 of the next 76 runs for the Kings XI to lend some respectability to the score.

However, it failed to test the Warriors, though, as they cruised past the target with 6.5 overs to spare.

* Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi