The decision after winning the toss on a flat pitch during a Twenty20 match should be a no-brainer: bat first and put the opposition under pressure during the chase. Even a cheerleader said she would bat first when Robin Jackman asked her the question moments before the toss. However, Harbhajan Singh decided to field, his rationale being that his team preferred to chase given that they fell narrowly short of the target against the Chennai Super Kings. As it turned out, the Mumbai Indians were restricted to 116 for 9 in 20 overs, the 66-run margin being the second largest of the tournament in terms of runs.
Watching the Kings XI Punjab opener Karan Goel and Kumar Sangakkara batting together presented a sharp contrast: Sangakkara was reeling powerful drives off his bat while Goel struggled to find his timing. He even got hit flush on the helmet by a shirt ball from Dwayne Bravo that was far too quick for him and discovered that he had a bleeding lip. When he was ready to bat again, Bravo ran in and dished out another bouncer but this time Goel was ready. He used the width outside off stump to get under the ball and upper cut it high and far over the third-man boundary, drawing applause from Sangakkara at the other end.
Time was running out for Brett Lee to make a lasting impact in this season's IPL for he, along with the other Australians in the Test squad, will head home soon for a training camp ahead of their tour of West Indies. His first delivery to Sanath Jayasuriya - a searing yorker at close to 150 kmh - signaled the start of something special. Sure enough, he exhibited sublime reflexes when he slid low to his left to take a sharp caught and bowled catch off Jayasuriya and then showed off his fitness by swooping on the ball, and diving during the release to hit the stumps direct to run out Luke Ronchi at the striker's end.
The first two matches in the IPL were a torrid examination for Piyush Chawla. He went for 19 off one over against Chennai Super Kings and 27 off two overs against Rajasthan Royals. He came on to bowl against Mumbai Indians when Bravo and Robin Uthappa were in the middle of a brisk partnership. He immediately caused problems, mixing up googlies with orthodox legbreaks and also varied his pace. The pressure built up to a crescendo when he bowled three consecutive dot balls to Bravo in the ninth over. With the required run-rate escalating, Bravo tried a rash hoick across the line to the fourth ball and lost middle stump. Chawla finished with fantastic figures of 2 for 16 off four overs.