Brutal Punjab maul ragged Rajasthan
Kings XI Punjab 195 for 7 (Marsh 71, Valthaty 46, Tait 3-22) beat Rajasthan Royals 147 for 7 (Praveen 2-22, Bhatt 2-20) by 48 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
You don't dismiss Paul Valthaty off a no-ball, this month. You don't dismiss Adam Gilchrist off a no-ball, ever. Rajasthan Royals found out just why. Siddharth Trivedi over-stepped as he got Gilchrist to chop on in the first over, and Shaun Tait cut the return crease as he sent down a thunderbolt in the second, that Valthaty guided to third slip. Both free-hits were slammed for fours, setting up a session of uninhibited brutality. Shaun Marsh built on the openers' heroics as Kings XI Punjab roared to a score of 195, setting up their third win in three games. The Mohali crowd lapped up the entertainment, Shane Warne was reduced to sledging in vain, Elizabeth Hurley had little to cheer by the end, and Preity Zinta could barely contain her glee.
Punjab were on top from start to finish, but the peak of their dominance was the third over of the game, off which Valthaty plundered Trivedi for 25 runs. A slow bouncer was pulled out of the ground, a fuller delivery was drilled straight and another length ball was redirected to cow corner. Trivedi managed to squeeze in a dot ball before sending down a badly-disguised slower one that was carved over point. And then Trivedi sent down another no-ball, full and succulent on the pads, and Valthaty tucked in for four more. Things just kept getting worse for Rajasthan, but they had it coming after the no-balls. Even Shane Warne wasn't at his best, as Gilchrist thumped him for a six and a four off his first three balls. At the end of four overs, Punjab were going at the other-worldly run-rate of 16.75.
Shane Watson, as he has so often done in recent times, came on and produced a crucial wicket, getting Gilchrist to drive to mid-on. Sanity prevailed for a few minutes as Marsh found his bearings, before he showed that there were non-violent ways to score runs as well. While Marsh finessed boundaries along the ground, Valthaty kept throwing visceral punches in all directions. Rajasthan continued to be generous, dropping him twice in the outfield off successive balls. Valthaty used the luck to wrest the orange cap back from Sachin Tendulkar, and slammed a Warne long-hop over the leg side, before someone finally held on to one of his mis-hits.
Marsh had moved to 21 off 14 balls by then, and stepped up a gear to ensure there was no let-up in the momentum. Rajasthan's medium-pacers fed him with several full and wide deliveries, while the spinners kept dropping short. Warne was the worst offender, and his lengths were shoddy enough to force Marsh to start playing some uncultured shots over the leg side. The 14th over yielded three sixes in four balls, as Punjab set their sights on 200. The projection was revised upwards after the next over, in which Dinesh Karthik looted three successive fours off Trivedi. Tait and Watson managed to pull things back in the last five overs, as Punjab lost 26 for 5, but the damage had already been done.
Chasing the biggest target of IPL 2011, Rajasthan strangely chose not to open with Watson. Rahul Dravid stroked a couple of elegant boundaries before Ryan Harris yorked him. Swapnil Asnodkar came out swinging wildly without connecting with much, and Praveen Kumar nailed him with a full delivery in the third over. Watson tried to ignite the chase with four boundaries off seven balls, but Praveen got him to top-edge a pull in the seventh over. The chase was as good as over when Ross Taylor was caught in front by a Piyush Chawla wrong 'un.
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo