KXIP off the mark with 6-wicket win

Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra, Kings XI Punjab’s opening pair, plundered the Rising Pune Supergiants’ bowlers to guide their side to their maiden win of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2016 at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium.

Not since 2011 had Kings XI Punjab managed to put on a half-century stand for the first wicket at Mohali. The fact that they managed to do it twice in as many matches this season only goes on to prove how critical the opening pair of Vohra and Vijay is going to be as the season progresses for the Mohali franchise.

On Sunday (April 17), the duo put on an exhibition of sensible batting on a track that had little assistance for the bowlers. However, after posting 97 runs for the first wicket – Kings XI Punjab’s second highest opening stand ever – the opposition struck back with quick wickets. Kings XI Punjab were reduced from 97 for no loss to 112 for three. Not surprisingly, the scoring rate came down even with Glenn Maxwell and David Miller at the crease.

With MS Dhoni in his elements as a skipper and a wicketkeeper, a turnaround of fortunes couldn’t have been ruled out at that point of time. However, a couple of hefty blows by Maxwell poured water on Dhoni’s plot of causing a downfall and hand Kings XI Punjab their third straight defeat of the season. Dropped catches and overthrows towards the end only messed the plans further as the hosts won by 6 wickets.

Earlier, Dhoni, Rising Pune Supergiants’ skipper, won the toss and elected to bat. He cited the afternoon heat as the reason for his decision and believed that the flat track would slow down as the match progresses.

While the latter didn’t happen as expected, the former backfired on his own batsmen. Faf du Plessis, who took little time to set his eye on an easy-paced track, scored freely from one end, even as his partners kept making their way back to the dugout at regular intervals.

Ajinkya Rahane (9 runs off 11 balls), Kevin Pietersen (15 off 15) and Thisara Perera (8 off 9) departed soon after they seemed set at the crease. It was only in company of Steve Smith that du Plessis could help his side’s scoring rate shift a gear higher. However, by the time Smith started taking the attack on the bowlers, du Plessis was struggling with cramps. He looked to hit the big shots, but couldn’t push the ball past the ropes as often as he would’ve liked. Nonetheless, he managed to put on a 63 runs off 46 balls with Smith for the fourth wicket.

Kings XI Punjab pulled things back with superb bowling in the death. Mohit Sharma, in specific, was brilliant by varying his pace in the last over. He bagged couple of wickets and conceded just three runs to restrict Rising Pune Supergiants to 152 for 7. During the course of the innings, Pietersen and Smith went past their respective 1000-run mark in IPL.

Brief Scores: Rising Pune Supergiants 152-7 in 20 Overs (Faf du Plessis 67, Steve Smith 38; Mohit Sharma 3-23, Sandeep Sharma 2-23) lost to Kings XI Punjab 153-4 in 18.4 Overs (Murali Vijay 53, Manan Vohra 51; Murugan Ashwin 3-36, Ankit Sharma 1-27) by 6 wickets

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