Tension,suspense,finger-nails being chewed to dust and a pulsating finish,all of which could have been avoided. Especially when Kings XI Punjab skipper David Hussey and veteran Azhar Mahmood strode back to the centre following the innings second strategic time out,requiring just 13 from the last four overs. The game was in the visitors pocket. The momentum was with them. All the batsmen had to do was to see their team home safely.
Safety,however,is not a virtue really associated too often with T20 cricket. Harakiri certainly is. That streak of adventure,at times uncalled for,is what makes the shortest format and the IPL,in particular,so captivating. For seemingly no reason,Kings XI began to implode,and pushed the panic button.
Punjabs suicidal run at the end resulted in three run-outs all unforced errors including those of Mahmood and Hussey in the space of eight balls. All Royal Challengers Bangalore had to do was pick up the pieces and walk right back into the game through the door that their opponents were refusing to slam shut. The 19th over from Zaheer Khan only cost the hosts two runs,leaving Punjab with five to get off Vinay Kumar in the final over.
A shot at redemption
At the crease were Paras Dogra and Piyush Chawla. Dogra stole a brace and a single,to leave his partner with two runs to get off two balls. It almost seemed inevitable that the diminutive leg-spinner from Uttar Pradesh would be in the spotlight at the end. Earlier in the evening,it was his first spell that had brought Bangalore back into the contest after Praveen Kumar (who just went for eight runs in four overs) & Co had kept a tight leash on Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli. Chawla had opened the floodgates by not only conceding 29 runs in his two overs but,in the process,also bringing back both Gayle and Kohli into big-hitting touch.
Here was his chance at redemption. Belligerent screams of RCB,RCB resonated across the Chinnaswamy Stadium. As fate would have it,it was Chawla who shut the crowd up with an almighty heave over the long-on boundary for six to seal a tense victory for Punjab. And with this victory Kings XI climbed as high as the fourth spot for the first time this season.
It did not all go to script early when Gayle began taking their bowlers apart in the first innings. Following a slow start and a dropped catch by substitute David Miller,the destructive Jamaican began teeing off and hit four sixes,including one that travelled 111 meters,en route to a 42-ball 71. But just like they have done in the last few matches,Punjab found heroes at the right time to keep their hopes alive. It was Mahmoods turn here as he got rid of Gayle with a well-directed short ball with Miller redeeming himself in the field. The crucial breakthrough meant Bangalore only scored 41 runs off their last six overs,leaving Punjab with a manageable 159 to get.
It has also helped that losing Adam Gilchrist has only meant that Punjab have got to field their best possible XI,with Mahmood and wicket-keeper Nitin Saini coming into the mix-not to forget the positive Hussey being promoted to lead. And while Mahmood shone with the ball,it was Saini who led with the bat scoring his maiden IPL half-century. Useful contributions from Hussey and Mandeep Singh only buoyed Punjabs chances before Chawla provided the necessary moment of drama in the end to clinch an important victory.