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Kings XI Punjab made a big statement by beating two-time IPL champions, Chennai Super Kings, by six wickets in their season opener. Led by the big-hitting duo of Glenn Maxwell (95) and David Miller (54), KXIP reached the sizeable 206-run target with seven balls to spare.
Earlier, the explosive Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum launched the CSK innings, after MS Dhoni opted to bat first. Both openers, who were playing for the Chennai franchise for the first time, took the KXIP bowlers head on. They even took Mitchell Johnson to the cleaners, scoring 14 runs off the Australian’s very first over. The pair then plundered 18 off Parwinder Awana’s second over, and took the score past 50 in the fifth over itself. In fact, CSK had put up 70 without loss by the time the sixth over drew to a close. In the process, they clocked their best powerplay score in IPL competition.
McCullum soon brought up his half-century in just 30 balls. CSK then raced to 100 in the 10th over, thanks to the constant onslaught by both batters. Finally, KXIP were able to get a breakthrough in the 12th over thanks to Akshar Patel; the left-arm spinner got rid of McCullum (67), who appeared set for a big score. The wicket, however, brought momentary respite for the team from Mohali. With Suresh Raina, who was playing his 100th IPL match, walking out in the middle, Smith found another able ally to continue the barrage of big hits. The pair added 38 runs at a fair clip, before Smith (66) got out in the 17th over with the scorecard reading 161 for two.
Raina (24) then added 24 runs with Dhoni, before returning to the dugout. The CSK skipper, along with Dwayne Bravo (8*), however, ensured the score went past the 200-run mark with some late-innings big hits. Dhoni (26) perished off the last ball of the 20th over with the scoreboard reading 205 for four. For KXIP, Lakshmipathy Balaji ended up with two wickets for 43 in his four overs, while Patel and Awana claimed a scalp each.
In response, Cheteshwar Pujara (13) and Virender Sehwag (19) got KXIP off to a brisk start. However, the Nawab of Najafgarh was done in by his Dehli teammate, Ashish Nehra, before he could make any serious impact on the course of the match. Pujara soon succumbed to R Ashwin, who trapped him leg-before. Patel (2) was also out in the same fashion to Ashwin, leaving KXIP on 51 for three in 5.1 overs.
David Miller then joined forces with Glenn Maxwell in an attempt to revive the run-chase. The pair kept chipping away at the target with occasional boundaries and brought up the team 100 in the 11th over. However, Maxwell stepped on the pedal after reaching his half-century; he had the lion’s share of runs in a Pawan Negi over that cost 22 runs. The Australian batsman’s 43-ball stay at the crease was laced with 15 fours and two massive sixes. Smith finally got rid of Maxwell – who was dropped while on 77 – after he swung the game in KXIP’s favour.
Miller (54), meanwhile, reached his half-century and brought the run-chase equation to under a run-a-ball. Thereafter, KXIP did not suffer any setbacks as George Bailey (17), who joined Miller in the middle, helped take his side over the line with a boundary.
Man of the Match: Glenn Maxwell for his match-winning knock of 95 (43 balls; 15x4; 2x6)
The Royal Challengers Bangalore overcame the Delhi Daredevils by eight wickets in what eventually turned out to be an easy run chase for the Garden City franchise. Thanks to a masterful big-hitting display from Yuvraj Singh and skipper Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers achieved the 146-run target with 3.2 overs to spare.
Earlier, RCB won the toss and asked DD to take first strike. Kohli’s bowlers vindicated this decision by shaking the Daredevils’ top order early on. Mitchell Starc accounted for former Royal Challenger Mayank Agarwal’s (6) wicket in the third over of the innings. Soon after that, Albie Morkel, in his first game in an RCB jersey, got rid of the dangerous Dinesh Karthik (0), who could only manage a golden duck. And then, before Manoj Tiwary (1) could stabilise the faltering DD innings, first change bowler, Varun Aaron, had him caught behind.
With the scorecard reading 17 for three in 4.1 overs, JP Duminy joined Murali Vijay in the middle. The duo only managed to add another 18 runs to the total over a three over stretch. Thereafter, Vijay’s (18) innings came to a surprise end off Yuzvendra Chahal’s first delivery of the night; the young leg-spinner bowled a straighter one that snuck past the opener’s defense. Thanks to the constant pressure exerted by the RCB bowlers, DD were tottering at 49 for four at the halfway stage with Ross Taylor taking guard opposite Duminy.
However, that was the final dent the RCB bowlers made in the DD line-up. Both Duminy and Taylor then set about resurrecting an innings that had gone astray in the first half. In the process, they managed to get their eye in, and then, in the last five overs, dispatched the opposition bowlers to, and sometimes over, the fence. They were particularly harsh on Ashok Dinda, who ended up with forgettable figures of 4-0-51-0. Even Starc came in for some stick in the death overs as both DD batsmen rode their luck with miscued shots and occasional edges running to the boundary.
Thanks to Duminy’s (67*) innings-boosting half-century and Taylor’s (43*) firm hand on the other end, the Daredevils posted a competitive 145 for four in their quota of 20 overs. For RCB, Chahal was the pick of the bowlers as his incisive four-over spell cost just 18 runs and accounted for a key wicket on a pitch that turned out to be batsman-friendly.
In response, the touted RCB line-up also suffered a jolt up front, when Nic Maddinson (4) edged Mohammed Shami to the ‘keeper. Kohli then joined forces with Parthiv Patel, and the pair dug RCB out of a hole. They added 56 for the second wicket in seven overs to put the run-chase on track. Patel (37), however, missed one from Rahul Sharma and ended up getting bowled just when he looked set to take charge of the innings.
RCB’s most expensive buy – and arguably the most experienced campaigner in their ranks – Yuvraj Singh then stepped up to the plate. A couple of misjudged shots later, the southpaw settled in and almost immediately proved his worth to his new team. With Kohli initially leading the way with his trademark fluent strokeplay, Yuvraj seemed comfortable playing a vital supporting role. However, as the innings progressed, both batters showed just why they are counted among the best chasers in the business. With an assortment of boundaries – including three sixes in one Sharma over – they batted DD out of the game. Yuvraj Singh’s (52) first innings in RCB colours saw him post a 29-ball half-century.
Meanwhile, Kohli (49) just fell short of yet another 50 in the T20 format.
Man of the Match: Yuzvendra Chahal for his economical figures of 4-0-18-1