Kings XI Punjab began the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013 with an annihilation of Pune Warriors India that ticked the batting, bowling and fielding boxes. But against a Chennai Super Kings side on a mission to right the wrongs from their first game defeat against Mumbai Indians, Punjab flopped. The bowlers picked not a wicket, but they had little to bowl at after they badly flubbed the batting and messed up on the field on Wednesday (April 10) at Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali.
Chennai barely broke a sweat in a ten-wicket win that came in 17.2 overs, with Mike Hussey (86 off 54 balls) and M Vijay (50 off 50 balls) able to pace the chase comfortably, given Punjab's below-par total of 138 all out in 19.5 overs. (See the match in pics)
Hussey was particularly fluent, and apart from a brief ten-ball period when Punjab missed two chances and saw a close call go against them, he picked runs at will on either side of the wicket, piercing the field when driving, clipping and pulling the bowlers apart. Vijay was more sedate at the start, but the pace Hussey set and the small target allowed him to settle in, and Vijay in turn played several pleasing shots. (Related read: Change in tactics helped, says Vijay)
Both men took full toll of their good fortune. Hussey was ruled in when Ryan Harris threw down the stumps in the seventh over, after putting in a full-length dive. Hussey got the benefit of the doubt, with some camera angles suggesting that he had a small part of the bat over the line, some suggesting otherwise. In the next over, Piyush Chawla put down a simple return chance off Hussey and Adam Gilchrist missed a straightforward stumping chance against Vijay. (All the stats from the Mohali match)
That window was all Punjab had, and once it shut, the Chennai openers were up and away, and impossible to stop.
At the start, Mahendra Singh Dhoni inserted Punjab in on a pitch with a sprinkling of grass, and the Chennai bowlers maintained control for large parts of a Punjab innings that ended at least 20 runs short of what it looked good for at one point. Whenever Punjab sensed an opening to get away, they were reined in.
Dwayne Bravo (3 for 27) was in the thick of the action, coming back for a second spell of 3 for 9 in two overs and taking three swirling catches in the outfield during the innings. Punjab had been put on the back foot early, with Dirk Nannes steaming in and getting the wickets of Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh, the openers. Gilchrist fell when Hussey took a sharp chance at leg gully, while Mandeep was undone by the extra pace and bounce that Nannes generated.
With Punjab 50 for 3 in seven overs, David Hussey (41 in 36 balls) and Gurkeerat Singh Mann (31 in 26 balls) steadied the innings with a 56-run stand off 43 balls. While that should have acted as a good platform to take off from, it remained the only part of the innings in which Punjab's batsmen were in control, as they lost seven wickets in 5.5 overs for just 32 runs after that.
Eventually, given Mike Hussey's exemplary control of the chase, even 20 more runs wouldn't have sufficed, and might, in fact, have allowed him to complete a well-deserved century.