Kings XI romp home by 7 wickets
Australian Shaun Marsh and the classy Mahela Jayawardene steered the Punjab Kings XI to a comfortable seven-wicket victory over the Deccan Chargers in their Indian Premier League match in Hyderabad on Thursday.
Marsh, playing his first IPL game, had no problems adjusting as he stroked his way to 84 not out off 62 balls, with 11 fours and a six.
The midwicket area was a particularly profitable scoring region for the left-hander and, as befits a man who plays his state cricket on the bouncy Waca pitch in Perth, he was strong off the back foot.
Jayawardene oozed the class that has made him one of the world's top batsmen as he cruised to 45 not out off 23 balls, Punjab celebrating victory with seven balls to spare.
The Kings XI began their chase for 165 with a terribly unfortunate dismissal. Ramnaresh Sarwan, who has spent much of the last year injured, must feel like the unluckiest cricketer around after being run out at the non-striker's end for a run-a-ball 15 when Marsh drove the ball back at bowler Sanjay Bangar, who deflected the powerful stroke on to the stumps.
Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna cleaned up Kumar Sangakkara for three when the Sri Lankan star flung his bat at a widish delivery and Rohit Sharma took a neat catch in the covers.
Marsh and Yuvraj Singh then added 41 runs for the third wicket as the Chargers could only get another wicket in the book four overs later.
Yuvraj (14) tried to pull but could only loop a return catch to Nuwan Zoysa, who bowled tightly up front.
Jayawardene then came in and displayed all the cunning and nimble footwork of a cat, making life hell for the bowlers with his innovative strokeplay. He hit six fours and a six.
Deccan captain Vangipurrapu Laxman's only tactic was to make a bowling change after every over, but that only gave the home side phoney hopes of upstaging the Kings XI.
Earlier, Rohit had swung ferociously at the death to rescue a Deccan Chargers innings undermined by the whirling leg-spin of Piyush Chawla.
Apart from opener Laxman's 48 off 34 balls, the rest of the Deccan batsmen's efforts were laughable against the wonderfully predatory Punjab bowling attack and the home side eventually finished with 164 for eight..
Rohit scored 76 not out from just 42 balls, sending two sixes into the crowd over long-on and hitting 10 fours as well. He batted sensibly at the start, with wickets crashing all around him, but he plundered 46 runs off his last 15 balls.
Laxman, who has struggled to get going in this tournament so far, also stuck to largely conventional strokes, but placed and timed the ball exquisitely as he gave the innings a solid start.
Sadly, his fellow top-order batsman did not come to the party and a series of schoolboy errors in shot selection or implementation saw the innings spiralling out of control as they crashed to 98 for six.
But Rohit continues to grow his reputation and it was his magnificent runs that gave Deccan something to bowl at.
Left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan is now the leading wicket-taker in the IPL with the additional two wickets he took on Thursday, but it was leg-spinner Chawla who once again drew the rave reviews.
Called on in the seventh over, he displayed all the tricks in the book to finish with three for 28.
Chawla's victims were Herschelle Gibbs, Laxman and Bangar.
It was an unhappy debut for Gibbs as he scored seven off nine balls before pulling a short delivery straight to deep midwicket for a simple catch to Karan Goel and Chawla's first wicket.