IPL golden duck for Biff
Richard Asher - SuperSport
Mumbai - New IPL franchise Pune Warriors coasted to a seven-wicket victory over the Kings XI Punjab in Mumbai on Sunday.
Under the captaincy of Indian World Cup hero Yuvraj Singh, the Warriors restricted the Kings XI to just 112/8 in their 20 overs before reeling off the runs with ease.
Warriors recruit Alfonso Thomas took 2/27 in his four overs as the Punjab top order collapsed in a heap early in their innings, a calamity which effectively destroyed their hopes in the match.
Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist had won the toss and chosen to bat first, but it certainly didn’t work out as planned for either the Australian opener or his fellow top-order batsmen.
The Kings XI quickly found themselves in desperate trouble at 9/4, with Thomas and Shrikant Wagh doing the damage.
Thomas, who took three wickets in his one and only T20 International for South Africa in 2007, got the first breakthrough when Gilchrist gloved it to the keeper in the first over.
Wagh then got in on the act as Shaun Marsh glanced an ordinary delivery to short fine leg, which made it 5/2.
One over later Thomas had Paul Valthaty caught by Jesse Ryder, and after the next change of ends Wagh also claimed a second wicket by dismissing Dinesh Karthik for a duck.
Four wickets in the first four overs made it 9/4 with the Punjab top order pretty much gone. A comparatively large partnership then followed as Sunny Singh and Abhishek Nayar put on 37 for the fifth wicket.
That stand came to an end in amateurish fashion when striker Singh went for a single and Nayar didn’t, which resulted in a simple run-out while Singh stood in the middle of the pitch and berated his partner.
Only in the 11th over did the 50 come up for the Kings XI, by which time they’d also lost Nayar.
From there things got better for Punjab, as South African Ryan McLaren responded to the challenging situation and helped his side reach three figures.
Some clean hitting by McLaren gradually lifted the run rate as the innings drew to a close, and the Bloemfontein-based player ended the innings undefeated on 51 from 43 balls.
Wickets at the other end meant the Kings XI were eight down when their overs ran out with the score on 112, but considering the sorry performance of their top order they did well to bat out 20 overs.
The Warriors chase started with a hiccup as out-of-form Graeme Smith spooned Praveen Kumar’s first ball into the covers and had to walk, head shaking in disbelief, for a golden duck.
But then calm returned, as Jesse Ryder and Mithun Manhas put on 60 for the second wicket at a tidy rate.
Both Ryder and Manhas were then dismissed in quick succession, each caught behind by Gilchrist. Still, the Warriors were more than halfway to their target by that stage, and well on track.
The Kings XI could still have created some real panic with two new men at the crease, but dropped simple catches to let both Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa off the hook in the space of three overs.
Singh and Uthappa did not offer further chances, and took their side home with almost seven overs to spare as their brand new team celebrated the perfect start to life in the IPL.
Pune: GC Smith, JD Ryder, Yuvraj Singh (capt), RV Uthappa (wk), M Manhas, MD Mishra, R Sharma, M Kartik, SB Wagh, WD Parnell, AC Thomas
Punjab: AC Gilchrist (capt & wk), SE Marsh, KD Karthik, Sunny Singh, AM Nayar, PC Valthaty, R McLaren, P Kumar, PP Chawla, NJ Rimmington, BA Bhatt