New Delhi:Kings XI Punjab bounced back into contention with a nail-biting three-wicket victory over Deccan Chargers in a Indian Premier League thriller on Saturday.
After restricting the formidable Deccan Chargers to 168 for 5, built around Andrew Symonds' unbeaten 60, the Kings XI Punjab rode on Mahela Jayawardene's quickfire 23-ball 48 and some lusty hitting by the tail-enders to scamper home with just one ball to spare.
Fortune fluctuated from one team to the other till the dying moments before Kings XI, who desperately needed a victory to keep themselves afloat in the tournament, tilted the balance in their favour on a tricky track at the De Beers Diamond Oval.
With nine runs required from the last over, Punjab's Piyush Chawla cracked a boundary off pacer R P Singh's first delivery and then held nerves to rotate strikes with Brett Lee to achieve a competitive target of 169.
Punjab's Sri Lankan import Mahela Jayawardene, with his fighting 48 off 23 balls, laid the foundation of the win which denied the Deccan their second victory on the trot. Earlier, put into bat first, Symonds cracked an unbeaten 60 off just 36 balls to guide Deccan Chargers to competitive 168 for 5.
The burly Australian, playing his first match in the second edition of the Twenty20 event, pulled the Hyderabad team out of the pits when they were struggling at 73 for 4. Symonds, who found an able ally in Y Venugopal Rao (32 off 25) to add crucial 95 runs for sixth wicket partnership, adorned his innings with four sixes and two boundaries.
Deccan skipper Adam Gilchrist started on an attacking note by sending fourth ball of the first over off paceman Brett Lee across the rope, followed by two more boundaries off Irfan Pathan's in the next over.
S Sreesanth inflicted the first jolt to the Hyderabad team by dismissing Gilchrist (20 off 16 balls) just when the Australian was getting into the groove after hitting three boundaries and a huge sixer.
Lee, who was playing first match in second edition of the Twenty20 tournament, extracted good swing in his early overs to make the life of Deccan batsmen difficult on a pitch which clearly offered a lot to the bowlers.
Playing on an untested pitch at De Beers Diamond Oval ground, batsmen struggled to make big hits while the bowlers ruled the roost throughout the proceedings as the balls were coming slowly to the bat.
South African Herchelle Gibbs (13) also had to head back cheaply after falling prey to spinner Piyush Chawla. Gibbs decided to go after Chawla's good length delivery in seventh over but failed to middle the ball as Mahela Jayawardene took a sharp catch diving to his left.
The Deccan were struggling at 70 for 3 wickets during the strategy break after Wilkin Mota sent T Suman (27 off 17 balls) packing in the 10th over. Lee bagged his first wicket in the IPL when he struck the Hyderabad team in the first over after the strategy break dismissing Rohit Sharma (9).
Chasing 169, opener Sunny Sohal gave Punjab an attacking start with his 17-ball 30, which he made with the help of four boundaries and a sixer.
Sohal cracked two consecutive boundaries off Rohit Sharma in the second over and then sent medium pacer S M Shoaib across the rope through aerial route in next over.
Sharma disturbed Punjab's rhythm with twin blows in the fifth over, which also bring an end to the 41-run opening partnership.
Sharma first dismissed Sohail in the third ball of the over and then sent his opening partner Simon Katich (9 off 11 balls) packing after two deliveries as Venugopal Rao pouched both the catches.
Shoaib struck the Punjab side at crucial juncture, just when skipper Yuvraj Singh and Kumar Sangakkara were getting their eyes and trying to recover from the twin loss.
The Hyderabad bowler first disturbed the furniture of Sangakkara (25 off 18) in the 10th over before inducing an edge to dismiss Yuvraj Singh in last ball before the strategy break, leaving Punjab at 86 for 4.
The dismissal of Yuvraj, who was looking dangerous and just started stepping on the accelerator, bogged down Punjab's run rate after 10th over. The team might have expected some lusty shots from Irfan Pathan (10 off 12) but he did not give much trouble to the scorers as Shoaib pouched a diving catch off T Suman's delivery.
However, Jayawadene's fighting innings which he built with the help of three sixes and one four before getting run out in the 18th over, kept the hope of Punjab team alive.