Kings XI Punjab started their IPL 2017 campaign with a convincing six-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiant at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Saturday. Punjab captain Glenn Maxwell led from the front with a blistering 20-ball 44 as his team easily chased down Pune's score of 163 for six with an over to spare. Steve Smith-led RPS, who had defeated Mumbai Indians in their first match this season, tasted their first defeat under the Australian captain and will need to regroup quickly before their next Indian Premier League (IPL) match.
Manan Vohra (14) and Hashim Amla (28) gave Punjab a blistering start and after Vohra's dismissal Wriddhiman Saha too came out all guns blazing as the hosts sped to 49 runs in 5 overs.
Imran Tahir (2/29), like he did against Mumbai in Pune, turned the game on his head by first dismissing Saha and then getting rid of Axar Patel (24).
Amla fell to Rahul Chahar and it seemed Pune had found a way back into the contest.
However, any hopes of a Pune fightback was quickly quashed as Maxwell and David Miller (30 not out) took centre-stage.
Maxwell started off gingerly but soon got into the thick of things with some of his usual lusty blows. He hit two fours and four sixes in his innings of 44 not out.
Miller, though, didn't find batting as easy as his Australian teammate but stuck around to give his skipper company as the duo led Punjab to a thumping win in their IPL 10 opener.
Earlier, after the fall of the top order that left Pune at 49 for three in the ninth over, Ben Stokes (50 off 32 balls) showed why he commanded a Rs 14.5 crore price at the auction. He got good support from Manoj Tiwary (40 off 23).
Tiwary and Daniel Christian, who both remained unbeaten, took Mohit and Sandeep Sharma to the cleaners at the end of the innings, collecting 30 off the last 12 balls.
It appeared to be a tricky surface to bat on after Kings XI opted to field.
Sandeep castled Mayank Agarwal with a sharp in-swinger though the shot selection of the opener so early on in the innings was questionable.
It was a memorable IPL debut for Tamil Nadu pacer T Natarajan, who took just two balls to strike, having the seasoned Ajinkya Rahane (19) holed out at deep cover.
The onus was on in-form captain Steven Smith (26) to bail his team out of trouble. He hung around for a while before he mistimed one to be caught at deep square leg.
Soon another experienced batsman, MS Dhoni, departed and Pune were down to 71 for four in the 12th over.
Stokes was joined by Tiwary and together they scored 61 off 37 balls to set up a competitive total.
(With PTI Inputs)