x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pune keep up their momentum in the IPL with Punjab win

Last season's strugglers make it two out of two, while Rajasthan stay top with Kolkata victory.

Pune Warriors celebrate beating Punjab.
Pune Warriors celebrate beating Punjab.

They have a new captain, a new kit, a new coaching staff and a brand new home ground. Now, the Pune Warriors India are hoping they can make a fresh new start to theIndian Premier League after finishing second from the bottom on their debut season.

"We want to forget about last year," said Praveen Amre, the Pune batting coach after their second win of the new campaign last night. "This is a new start for us and we want to keep the momentum going."

Playing their first game on their brand new home ground, a packed Sahara Stadium, Pune put 166 for six on the board, with the 81 run partnership for the third wicket between Marlon Samuels and Robin Uthappa, in 10.1 overs, setting the stage for a 12-ball cameo of 25 from the Australian Steven Smith.

Punjab made a disappointing start to the chase, losing both the openers - Paul Valthaty (one) and Adam Gilchrist (six) - with only nine runs on the board.

At the end of five overs, they had scored only 13; they started their final 10 overs needing 114 and finished 22 runs short.

Amre praised the contribution of Samuels and Smith, Pune's two new recruits for this season, and the leadership of Sourav Ganguly, who is leading the side after Yuvraj Singh was ruled out because of his cancer treatment.

"This game was really crucial for us," Amre said. "After winning in Mumbai, we wanted to keep the momentum going. As a batting unit, we did really well on this wicket.

"The partnership between Samuels and Robin was really crucial, and the way Smith and Manish [Pandey, 12 off four balls] finished, it helped us get a good total on the board. Now we want to continue from here."

About the presence of Ganguly, Amre said: "Sourav is playing a great role. His ability to lead is excellent.

"That's what we wanted this year and I believe he is delivering that."

Samuels and Uthappa came together after Ganguly and Jesse Ryder were dismissed between four runs of each other.

They kept the home fans entertained, taking the score to 113 before the West Indian was bowled by Harmeet Singh four runs short of his half-century.

Singh also dismissed Uthappa in an eventful 19th over that saw 26 runs being scored. The bowler had to be taken off after bowling two consecutive full tosses over the waist height and Bipul Sharma had to bowl the final four deliveries of the over.

Smith smashed the first two of those for consecutive sixes and Pandey smacked another maximum off the last ball.

Ganguly said of the victory: "We bowled well and also batted well towards the end. The late onslaught took us to 160 plus but it was certainly a 150 pitch."

Meanwhile,

Brad Hodge smashed 44 off 29 balls and the fast bowler Amit Singh grabbed two wickets in as many balls to lead the Rajasthan Royals to a comfortable 22-run victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders to ensure they remain the early leaders in the Indian Premier League.

Hodge was the biggest contributor to Rajasthan’s total of 164 for five, and he put on 64 with Ashok Meneria (40) for the fourth wicket after the innings had looked to be in trouble at 61 for three with eight overs gone.

Hodge said: “It was a good wicket. Seven runs per over was never going to be enough and we got a good partnership.”

Manoj Tiwary fought a lone battle and scored 59 off 49 balls as Kolkata were restricted to 142 in their 20 overs.

Kolkata were forced to play a catch-up game after Singh removed Jacques Kallis and their captain Gautum Gambhir off successive deliveries and Ankeet Chavan made it eight for three by having Brendon McCullum plumb leg before wicket.

Gambhir said their poor start had ruined their hopes of chasing down Rajasthan’s total.

“It’s difficult to chase when you are three down early into your innings,” he said.

It was Rajasthan’s second successive win, having beaten Kings XI Punjab in the first match and Rahul Dravid, the captain, hopes his side can take that form on the road, beginning with Wednesday’s trip to the Mumbai Indians.

“It was a good start,” he said. “We started as underdogs which is good for us. Good to win at home and hopefully we can get some wins away as well.”

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