If Australia’s quickie Mitchell Johnson would not have been out of the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) squad due to his rib injury, Sri Lankan all-rounder Thesera Perera perhaps would not have found a place in the playing XI in their opening CLT20 tie against Hobart Hurricanes in Mohali on Thursday night.
Johnson’s absence provided an opportunity for 25-year-old Perara, one which he grabbed with both hands – first with the ball and then with the bat.
Perara, who sat out on the bench during the whole of IPL season 7 marked his return to the Playing XI with an unbeaten 20-ball 35 runs after returning figures of 3-0-17-2. He was supported by skipper George Bailey in the chase as the Australian made a 26-ball 30.
Needing 145 to win, KXIP was in a spot of bother when big guns Virender Sehwag and David Miller fell cheaply. Trying to play an expansive shot, Sehwag got out on the first ball of the innings while facing Doug Bollinger. Hobart Hurricanes built the pressure with smart on bowling and got the wickets of Wriddhiman Saha, Miller and Manan Vohra in quick succession, reducing KXIP to 51 for 4. It was Glenn Maxwell, who turned around the match for KXIP with his sterling knock of 43 runs off 25 balls. He got out when the scorecard read 77 for 5.
The Australian domestic team would have hoped to turn around the match at that point, but the 69-run sixth-wicket unbeaten partnership between Perera and Bailey ensured KXIP won their opening CLT20 match.
Even without their spearhead Johnson, KXIP came up with a good performance with the ball by restricting Hobart Hurricanes to 144 for 6. It was 20-year-old left-arm spinner Akshar Patel who got KXIP their first break by bowling out Hobart Hurricanes captain Tim Paine for 11. The Hurricanes were finding it tough to live up to their name initially although the highest scorer in the Big Bash T20, Ben Dunk, was scoring run-a-ball.
It was in the eighth over of the innings when Perara struck and sent Dunk packing for a 25-ball 26. Dunk came down the pitch, targeting long-off but the ball headed towards the deep cover region where Maxwell took a tough catch. Perera went on to dismiss Aiden Blizzard for 27 to reduce Hobart Hurricanes to 71 for 3 in 11.2 overs. Batting at number four, Pakistan all-rounder Shoaib Malik could not do much. A 52-run fifth wicket-partnership between Travis Birt and Jonathan Wells got things back on track for the Hurricanes.
BRIEF SCORES: Hobart Hurricanes: 144 for six in 20 overs (Jonathan Wells 28, Travis Birt, Adrian Blizzard 27; Thisara Perera 2/17), lost to Kings XI Punjab 146 for five in 17.4 overs (Glenn Maxwell 43, George Bailey 34, Thisara Perera 35).
Zinta-Wadia skip KXIP match
Kings XI Punjab won their opening match against Hobart Hurricanes at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday, but co-owners, industrialist Ness Wadia and Bollywood actor Preity Zinta — regulars at games — were conspicuous by their absence. Mohit Burman, another co-owner of KXIP, watched the game. Zinta, who broke up with her former beau Wadia after the first season of IPL, had filed a sexual harassment case against her former boyfriend after IPL 7. It is learnt that both might skip the Mohali-leg of the CLT20 matches.
Few takers for CLT20
The PCA Stadium in Mohali, that is usually packed like sardines during IPL matches, saw a poor turnout for Thursday’s game. Swathes of vacant seats were seen at the stadium, which has a seating capacity of 28,000. Considering the fact that it the star-studded KXIP’s first outing in the CLT20 competition, a better turnout was expected. The CLT20 organisers had even slashed the prices. Tickets for the most popular block in the stadium — the terrace — are priced between Rs 5,000-6,000 during the IPL. At Rs 1,000 for the CLT20, it was a steal.