Miller guides Punjab to win

2014-04-19 08:31
David Miller (Gallo Images)
Abu Dhabi -  An explosive partnership of 115 between Glenn Maxwell and David Miller proved to be the difference as the Kings XI Punjab chased down a massive target of 206 with seven balls to spare to claim a brilliant six-wicket victory over the Chennai Super Kings in their Indian Premier League opener at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday.

The duo joined forces with their team in considerable trouble at 52 for three, but Maxwell in particular took charge as he belted 15 fours and two sixes in a 43-ball innings of 95.

However, the support provided by Miller - who himself finished unbeaten on 54 from 37 deliveries - proved to be invaluable, and some lusty blows at the end ensured his side got home relatively comfortably despite the late wicket of his partner Maxwell.

The win puts the Punjab outfit into third place on the table, behind Kolkata and Bangalore, while CSK find themselves fourth with the first round of fixtures to be completed later today.

Chennai had earlier posted an imposing total of 205 for four after winning the toss, with a 76-ball opening stand of 123 between Brendon McCullum (67) and Dwayne Smith (66) providing a fine platform.

McCullum smashed four fours and five maximums in his innings, and, after being dropped on 22 by George Bailey, was the more dominant partner as Chennai coasted to 70 without loss after the powerplay - their highest in seven years of IPL cricket.

McCullum eventually fell to impressive left-arm spinner Akshar Patel (4-0-34-1) in the 13th over, but Smith promptly responded by upping the tempo. He duly cleared the fence twice in the space of three balls - the latter a blow in the 16th over in which the dangerous Mitchell Johnson (4-0-47-0) went for 15.

The fall of the West Indian and Suresh Raina (24) did little to halt the men in yellow's momentum, as skipper MS Dhoni completed the innings with the necessary impetus as he struck three boundaries and a six before perishing off the final delivery of the innings for a handy 11-ball cameo of 26.

Openers Virender Sehwag (19) and Cheteshwar Pujara (13) made a positive start in reply, with each hitting a brace of boundaries off Ashish Nehra (3-0-24-1) in the third over.

However, Nehra was to have the last laugh, as he completed the over by knocking over Sehwag's leg stump, and a double strike from R Ashwin (4-0-41-2) shortly after accounted for both Pujara and Patel (2) to leave the men from Mohali in trouble at 52 for three in the sixth over.

Maxwell was then joined at the crease by Proteas middle-order sensation Miller, and the Australian was unwilling to offer the dangerous Ashwin much respect, as he blasted successive boundaries shortly after Patel's dismissal for Punjab to close out the powerplay positively on 64 for three.

Miller needed just six deliveries to reach the fence himself, and the pair briskly took the score to 91 for three in the 10th over before the game's turning point occurred. Maxwell attempted an ill-advised reverse sweep that caught the shoulder of his bat. However, Nehra's poorly judged dive at short third man saw him shell a rather straightforward chance.

Given such a charitable reprieve, Maxwell was intent on making Chennai pay for the mistake, and, after raising his fifty in the 12th over, he ruthlessly dispatched the left-arm spin of Pawan Negi (3-0-37-0) for three fours and a six an over later - one that yielded 22 runs.

The rampant Maxwell got to within five of a richly-deserved century after a six and a four in successive deliveries from Smith (2-0-25-1), before a well-placed yorker crashed into his stumps to bring an end to the duo's sensational 63-ball partnership.

But with 39 still required from 26, Miller stepped up to the plate beautifully, and some power hitting saw him fly past the fifty mark, before skipper Bailey (17 not out) emphatically ended proceedings with successive boundaries in the penultimate over.

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: DR Smith, BB McCullum, SK Raina, F du Plessis, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), DJ Bravo, RA Jadeja, R Ashwin, P Negi, A Nehra, MM Sharma

KINGS XI PUNJAB: V Sehwag, CA Pujara, GJ Maxwell, DA Miller, GJ Bailey (capt), WP Saha (wk), MG Johnson, AR Patel, R Dhawan, P Awana, L Balaji


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