Praveen Kumar dug the ball in short,and the slow nature of the wicket allowed Ross Taylor time to get a lot of wood on the ball. The swivel-pull seemed destined to crash into the stands left of fine-leg. From deep square leg,Gurkeerat Mann put in a Bolt-esque sprint and launched himself into the air full-stretch. The ball smacked into Manns palms and stayed there as a gasp of admiration rippled through the Subrata Roy Sahara stadium.
Either side of Manns superman moment,a perfectly mixed cocktail of stifling,accurate bowling,breathtaking fielding and some horrendous shot selection from the batsmen ensured that the Pune Warriors crashed to a heavy defeat at home to Kings XI Punjab. The defeat was the Warriors tenth in a row with their last win coming on April 21,2012,against the Delhi Daredevils.
Praveen Kumar delivered the perfect opening for Punjab as he castled an uncomfortable Manish Pandey off the last ball of the first over. Pandey,who looked unsure after three balls had whizzed past his outside edge,was caught on the crease to a length ball which swung in slightly to disturb his woodwork. T Suman,who came into the side replacing Yuvraj Singh,who was out with a back-strain,was all at sea during his 14-ball stay to which Azhar Mehmood put an abrupt end. A quicker delivery was skied straight into the hands of mid-off who accepted the simplest of catches. The Warriors did not make too much of an improvement on their start as the powerplay yielded just 24 runs with two batsmen back in the dugout. Against the Sunrisers,the Warriors had managed three runs more in the first six overs.
Things did not get much better after the powerplay as Marlon Samuels brave attempt at taking on Mandeep Singhs arm ended in disaster. The West Indian patted the ball into the leg side,hared to the other end,and turned swiftly for a second. Mandeep,who was patrolling the deep midwicket boundary,made a good 30 yards to the ball,picked it up and rifled a perfect throw to keeper Adam Gilchrist,who barely had to move his gloves to disturb the stumps with Samuels still palpably short of the crease despite a desperate lunge.
Leg spinner Piyush Chawla then got into the act as a quicker delivery dropped way short of length was missed by an onrushing Robin Uthappa with Pune reeling at 33 for four off nine overs. Parvinder Awana,Kings XIs highest wicket-taker in the previous season,came on in the next over and produced a jaffa. The ball,bowled at 139.1 kph,was a tad short of a length. Mathews instinctively got on to his backfoot and the ball seamed away,opened Mathews,and found the edge to the keeper.
Awana and Ryan Harris picked up a wicket each and their unerring line and pace put the shackles on the Warriors batsmen. Harris gave away just 12 runs in his four overs while Awana conceded 16.
Mitchell Marsh and Abhishek Nayar gave the Pune innings some impetus but a steady stream of wickets ensured that Pune never really stitched any partnerships. The innings finished at 99 for nine with Praveen and Azhar Mahmood picking up a couple of wickets each.
When the Punjab openers came out to bat,it seemed as if they were batting on an entirely different track. Gone was the tentativeness that marked the Pune innings. Adam Gilchrist hammered two boundaries and a lovely flicked six off Bhuvneshwar Kumars first over. Gilchrist holed out in the third over off Angelo Mathews but debutant Manan Vohra seemed to want to finish off the match as soon as possible. The 19-year-old Vohra smacked seven boundaries in his 28-ball 43. Vohra and opener Mandeep Singh compiled a 58-run partnership off just 48 balls and though Mandeep was castled by Rahul Sharma late on,it didnt stop Punjab romping home with nearly eight overs to spare.