A new captain was not enough to win the match for Pune Warriors India; and a struggling skipper’s continued failure for Kings XI Punjab almost hurt his team. Mandeep Singh and David Miller, however, overcame the host’s initial wobble at the PCA Stadium to lead it to an exciting seven-wicket victory in the Pepsi IPL.
Before this match, no KXIP batsman had scored a half-century in the tournament. Two of them arrived on Sunday night.
Mandeep batted through the entire innings and was initially assisted by Manan Vohra, whose 22 off 13 deliveries gained greater importance as the match wore on.
Miller came in to bat in the seventh over and found the boundary line with ominous regularity. Needing 16 off the last over bowled by Luke Wright, the duo could only manage singles off the first two deliveries before Miller hit two sixes off the next three to seal an unlikely win.
Earlier, a poor fielding display by KXIP had allowed PWI to edge ahead.
Gilchrist chose to field, and seven balls later arrived the most momentous error of the contest.
Aaron Finch, batting on one, was the beneficiary of a clanger by Gilchrist, leaving the bowler Azhar Mahmood, and pretty much everyone else, bemused. The ball took a thick edge off the opener’s bat but couldn’t find a place in the ’keeper’s gloves.
Finch immediately punished the Pakistani all-rounder by hitting him for a four and six off consecutive deliveries in the same over.
When the Aussie was finally dismissed for 64 in the 16th, his team was in a dominant position at 124 for two. PWI’s skipper for this match, Finch hit five of his eight fours through pull shots.
Finch’s opening partner Robin Uthappa was more sedate but made most of his runs through quick running between the wickets, aided by the opposition’s laxity in the outfield.
Yuvraj Singh, joining Finch after Uthappa’s departure in the 11th over, began tentatively but later scored 34, using the conditions to good effect.
A couple of sixes by the left-hander off Awana in the 17th over began a late charge by PWI which could have proved to be the crucial difference at the end.
Yuvraj ceded the stage to Wright in the following over and, despite making only his first appearance of this season, the Englishman clobbered a four off each of his first six deliveries to take his team to 185.