The Pune Warriors got their IPL existence off to a winning start when they beat the Kings XI Punjab by seven wickets.
Having been sent into the field by Punjab skipper Adam Gilchrist, Alfonso Thomas and Shrikant Wagh provided Pune with a near perfect start, with both bowers picking up a wicket in each of their first two overs.
It was Gilchrist (1) who was the first to go, edging an attempted pull to Robin Uthappa behind the stumps. Countryman Shaun Marsh (1) followed soon after, depositing a full-blooded flick down the throat of short fine leg.
The Kings XI’s woes continued as Paul Valthaty (6) and Dinesh Karthik (0) both came and went without really troubling the scorers.
Abhishek Nayar (12) and Sunny Singh (12) momentarily steadied the ship with a 25-run partnership, but Singh’s dismissal highlighted the plight of the situation. Having pulled the ball to mid on, Singh set off for the run and when halfway down the track he saw his partner hadn’t budged, proceeded to chastise Nayar instead of trying make his ground and in the end could have made it home due to a wild throw from the fielder.
The dismissal did, however, prove fortuitous as it bought McLaren to the crease. At first runs were hard to come by, with singles and the occasional two the best on offer. Gradually the South African – with some help from Piyush Chawla – began to up the run rate with some big blows that saw him bring up the hundred in the penultimate over and his fifty three balls from the end of the innings.
While the Warriors will have felt they had let the Kings XI get more than they should have given the visitor’s early predicament, a total of 113 was always going to be tough to defend.
However, if ever there was going to be a shock turnaround it seemed Sunday may be the day, when Pune opener Graeme Smith was dismissed off the first ball of the innings, hitting a full blooded drive straight to the man at cover.
Gilchrist’s men couldn’t consolidate on the fine start though, with Jesse Ryder’s 31 off 17 balls the foundation for the successful chase.
Such is the nature of defending a small total, that even when wickets did fall there was no real pressure applied.
Yuvraj Singh (21*) joined Robin Uthappa (22*) at the crease in the ninth over, and the pair needed just four more overs to secure the win. Cricket365