After losing seven matches on the trot, a win for bottom-ranked Pune Warriors was a refreshing change, even if it made little change to their overall fortunes in IPL 4.
Though Sourav Ganguly did not play, Pune Warriors effected plenty of changes in their gameplan which paid off. For one, Robin Uthappa (22) and Yuvraj Singh (35) came up the order and that made the task easy as the team chased down the small target of 120.
Kings XI Punjab too made five changes to their eleven but with such a modest total, even a struggling Pune could not be contained. In the end, Warriors broke their losing streak with a five-wicket win at PCA Stadium in Mohali on Sunday.
Yet again, it was leggie Rahul Sharma who did the trick for Pune Warriors. Bowling a tidy line and bringing in sly changes in length, he got rid of Kings’ crucial man, Adam Gilchrist and then tempted Paul Valthaty (23) with a short-of-length delivery that skidded off the surface to induce a top edge from the batsman.
Already boasting of the best economy rate of 5.27 in IPL 4, Punjab’s Sharma did extremely well at his ‘home’ ground with figures of (2/17) as the hosts were restricted to a low total. Wayne Parnell, brought in place of Alfonso Thomas, also made a difference with two wickets.
For Kings XI, it was the same old story. Their top three gone, it was time for yet another middle-order fightback which failed to happen though Dinesh Karthik (30) broke his run-less streak.
Both sides tried out new players. Kings XI brought in Siddharth Chitnis, Shalabh Srivastava, Mandeep Singh and Bhargav Bhatt in place of Abhishek Nayar, Ryan McLaren, Love Ablish Singh and Piyush Chawla being ruled out over medical reasons. Pune Warriors still did not play Ganguly while Thomas, Graeme Smith and Mithun Manhas were also not included in the playing eleven. While Pune finally gave a chance to Calum Ferguson, Kings XI kept faith in David Hussey.
With this win, Pune Warriors and Kings XI have swapped positions in the points table though both remain among the three bottom-placed teams.