It was supposed to be a Shane Warne show with Liz Hurley clapping in the stands. Instead, another Aussie, Shaun Marsh, hogged the limelight with Preity Zinta cheering the left-hander.
It was carnage at the PCA stadium on Thursday night, as Marsh hammered the daylights out of the Rajasthan Royals attack after Paul Valthaty and Adam Gilchrist had given the team a solid platform. After Kings XI Punjab posted 195 for seven, it would have required some getting for a team that has struggled with the bat. In the end, the hosts won by a comfortable 48 runs.
And so it proved, as the Rajasthan Royals’ batting fell apart under the pressure of the huge total. What turned out to be a masterstroke was Gilchrist’s decision to bowl out Praveen Kumar. Bowling his four overs on the trot, he accounted for Swapnil Asnodkar and the dangerous Shane Watson.
After the fall of the two, all that RR could do was try and make a match of it. But even in that they failed miserably as KXIP bowlers tied the batsmen in knots, be it with pace or spin. Even before the innings was halfway through, the writing was on the wall when leggie Piyush Chawla trapped the last hope Ross Taylor leg-before. From then on, it was just party-time in the stands with red flags waving all over.
Warne’s decision to provide the home team the first use of the placid pitch turned out to be an early Easter gift as Gilchrist and Paul Valthaty rode their luck and went berserk against the wayward RR bowling. The duo posted the fastest 50 in IPL history, from just 18 deliveries, and from there on KXIP held all the aces.
RR cannot but blame themselves, as they bowled no-balls at wrong times. In the first over, Siddharth Trivedi castled Gilchrist but it turned out to be a no-ball, In the very next over, Shaun Tait had Valthaty caught, but the TV umpire ruled it a no-ball for cutting the return crease.
To add insult to injury, both the resultant free hits were hammered to the boundary. Those incidents unnerved the RR bowlers so much that they not only lost their composure, but also their line and length and gave away runs at the speed of light. In the end these blunders proved decisive. Continuing his stupendous run in the IPL, Valthaty required just 24 balls to snatch the Orange Cap back from Sachin Tendulkar.
However, he threw away his hand as he became overambitious when he had the bowling at his mercy. He holed out to long-on in trying to hammer Warne out of the ground.