Punjab keep pace with last-ball victory.
Chargers seemed to have the game in control for much of the time. First, their two most consistent batsmen, Shikhar Dhawan and Cameron White, added to their rapidly growing collection of half-centuries this season to lift Chargers to their second highest total of 2012. And soon after Azhar Mahmood was dismissed in the 13th over of the chase, the asking-rate was rocketing past 13, with David Hussey as the only recognized batsman remaining. Still, as they have so often this season, Chargers managed to make a hash of it, and end up on the losing side.
The first signs of trouble for Chargers came in the 15th over from Amit Mishra, when Hussey hammered a couple of leg-side sixes as Kings XI looted 21 off it. Madhya Pradesh seamer TP Sudhindra then seemed to have pulled things back with a yorker-filled over that went only for five in the first five deliveries, but he missed his length off the final ball and Hussey promptly dispatched it for a straight six.
Fifty needed off four overs and time for Chargers to turn to their most potent weapon, Dale Steyn. He delivered with two wickets in his comeback over, though Piyush Chawla got a couple of audacious boundaries off it. When Hussey muscled a slower one from Daniel Christian for six early in the 18th over, everyone thought the outcome of the game would depend on Hussey. Instead, there were no more boundaries from Hussey and most of the runs came from Gurkeerat.
First, Christian was drilled down the ground for four and then a fearless attempt to paddle a ball from outside off resulted in a streaky four off the thigh pad. Steyn has combusted on a couple of occasions at the death this season, and has been unhittable on others. This time he was back at his best-bowler-in-the-world mode, conceding just four singles off the first five balls, though the pressure on him was evident from the expletive-infused outburst at a fielder for shying at the stumps. The last ball of the over was a low full toss that Gurkeerat somehow squeezed behind point for a boundary, making it 16 required off the final over.
With Christian and Steyn having bowled out, Kumar Sangakkara had to choose between legspinner Mishra and quick bowler Manpreet Gony, and he picked Gony. Chargers' fielding seemed to have cost them on the first ball when a fumble allowed Hussey to return for two and retain the strike, but Hussey could only take a single off the next.
Gurkeerat was unfazed by the task at hand, clubbing the next ball over midwicket for six before placing the fourth delivery to the sweeper cover boundary. Two more were taken off the penultimate delivery, leveling the scores. Sangakkara brought in all his fielders, but Gony opted to go with the bouncer, which was probably the wrong option as Hussey could have scampered a bye even if Gurkeerat missed. Gurkeerat didn't though, getting an edge as he pulled it to the fine leg boundary to deliver victory that tightens the table: the top seven teams are only four points apart.
The late heroics were needed as Christian had taken two early wickets, including the crucial one of Shaun Marsh, to stall the chase. Mahmood then helped Kings XI gain ground with a quick 31, then the baton was taken by Hussey who speeded up the innings further before Gurkeerat provided the final burst.
Earlier: considering the three tough games remaining for them: Kings XI seemed to have blown their chances with an amateurish effort in the field. Two simple catches offered by White were put down and there were numerous fumbles as Chargers built up a big score.
Parthiv Patel featured in a brisk opening stand and Christian showed off his hitting skills at the death, but the innings revolved around a 96-run stand between Dhawan and White. The pair set a scorching pace, scoring at nearly 10 an over, and despite another underwhelming performance from Sangakkara, Chargers put up what looked like a winning score. Once again, though, repeating a familiar story from their season, they managed to go down despite controlling a big chunk of the match.
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|Publication:||Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)|
|Date:||May 15, 2012|
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