David Miller, the South Africa batsman, produced his best ever batting performance for Kings XI Punjab on Sunday night, slamming an unbeaten 80 off 41 balls to help his team chase down 186 with a ball to spare in Mohali. Pune Warriors must have more than fancied their chances after finishing on 185 for 4 in what has till now been a rather low-scoring tournament, but Miller's 128-run stand with Mandeep Singh was paced well enough to see the hosts home.
The idea, Miller said after the game, was to keep Kings XI in the match till the final over, and see where it went from there. "We did a really great job by taking the game to the last over. We were backing ourselves, we had a chance of winning or losing and I am glad we came out winning at the end of it," Miller told the IPL site. "I said to Mandy, we just need to watch the ball well and really try our best. I wasn't really thinking much to be honest; I had a few plans field wise, but other than that I just tried to clear the ball that came my way."
In all Miller hit five sixes and five fours, finishing with a strike-rate of 195. Mandeep, who had opened the innings, did not match Miller's pace of scoring but provided crucial support with 77 not out off 58 balls. Miller termed Mandeep's knock "phenomenal". "He is a star for the future," he said. "He has a good mind, wants to do well and I am really happy for him."
Kings XI were left with 16 to get off the final over and Miller managed to hit two sixes off the medium pace of Luke Wright, the England allrounder, who was playing his first game of the season for Warriors.
Wright had earlier played a pivotal role in lifting Warriors to a commanding total, blitzing 34 off 10 balls at the death. While he was "delighted" to finally be a part of the action, Wright said he did not quite look forward to bowling that final over as batting is his "main strength".
"I am not an out and out bowler, I just bowl a bit sometimes, so obviously there was pressure there. It was a situation I am not used to being in so often, but it was a shame I couldn't defend the total off the last over," Wright said. "The loss has taken the shine off my knock. But in terms of batting, that has been my main strength and I am very pleased with it."