Pune Warriors flatten listless Punjab
Pune Warriors 113 for 3 (Manhas 35) beat Kings XI Punjab 112 for 8 (McLaren 51*, Wagh 3-16) by seven wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Subroto Roy, owner of the tournament's most expensive franchise Pune Warriors, watched his team's debut seated amid a group of models, who had plenty to cheer as Pune outclassed Kings XI Punjab at the DY Patil Stadium. Punjab were the cellar-dwellers of the previous season, and despite completely overhauling the squad, they turned in a performance that would have been expected from the deadbeats of 2010.
Even triple digits looked a long way away from Punjab, after the top six had failed on a track with plenty of bounce, before South African allrounder Ryan McLaren pulled off some big hits towards the end of the innings to ensure it wasn't entirely one-way traffic. That target, though, proved too tiny to trouble Pune's line-up of heavy-hitters.
Pune made an outstanding start to their IPL journey, taking wickets in each of the first four overs to leave Punjab gasping at 9 for 4. South African fast bowler Alfonso Thomas will be little known to Pune fans, but he removed the biggest name in the Punjab line-up in the first over - Adam Gilchrist walking after edging a short ball to the keeper. Thomas' new-ball partner Shrikant Wagh, a similarly low-profile bowler, also delivered, removing the second most dangerous Punjab batsman - Shaun Marsh whipping the ball to short fine leg.
After Dinesh Karthik holed out to third man, Punjab started a slow recovery before some amateurish cricket ended the stand between Sunny Singh and Abhishek Nayar. Both batsmen were ball-watching after Sunny punched the ball to wide mid-on, and he was more than halfway down the track before having to turn back. Instead of attempting to make his ground, he decided to berate Nayar instead, and though the fielder's throw was way off target, Pune still had plenty of time to run out Sunny.
Punjab were soon 45 for 6 before McLaren intervened. He was cautious early on as he re-built the innings with Piyush Chawla, with only 25 runs coming in a nine-over spell, and even at the end of the 18th over, the run-rate wasn't even five. It was only in the last two overs that McLaren showed his hard-hitting abilities, clubbing the ball over midwicket and glancing to fine leg as he plundered 22 to reach his half-century and slightly dent the party mood among Pune fans.
The first-ball dismissal of Graeme Smith also perked up Punjab. Mithun Manhas and Jesse Ryder, though, made sure there was going to be any dramatic turnaround. They put on 60 rapid runs, crashing at least one boundary in each over that they were together. Both fell in the space of five balls, but even that didn't throw Punjab off course as their most expensive batsmen, Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa, came together. Some schoolboy fielding gave both Yuvraj and Uthappa a life each, and they clubbed three sixes in five deliveries to hasten the finish.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo