Indore, April 8 (Cricketnmore) Skipper Glenn Maxwell's belligerent 20-ball unbeaten 44 helped Kings XI Punjab start their 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) campaign with a six-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiant a Holkar Stadium here on Saturday.
Maxwell, along with South African David Miller (30 from 27 balls), raised an unbeaten 79-run fifth wicket stand to guide Punjab to safety with six balls to spare.
Chasing a decent 164, medium pacer Ashoke Dinda, guilty for leaking 30 runs in the final over against Mumbai Indians, mended his ways and provided the early breakthrough for Pune with the wicket of opener Manan Vohra, who smacked him for a massive six, four balls earlier.
South African veteran Hashim Amla held firm at one end, scoring almost at a run-a-ball rate and managing to clear the fence on three occasions. He along with stumper Wriddhiman Saha (13) put on 22 runs for the second wicket.
Saha failed to take advantage of the life, he got on 5 when he was dropped by Daniel Christian off Ben Stokes, before a googly from leg-spinner Imran Tahir crashes into his middle and off-stump.
Tottering at 49/2, Punjab were in need of a partnership and Amla provided it with southpaw Axar Patel, who was surprisingly promoted above the likes of skipper Glenn Maxwell and David Miller.
The right-left combination of Amla and Patel hung on for the next four overs, milking the easy singles and an odd six to gather 34 runs for the third wicket before the Protea was undone by debutant leggie Rahul Chahar to be safely caught by Stokes at long-off.
Thereafter, Pune skipper Steve Smith immediately brought back his strike bowler Tahir for a second spell and the South African delivered in his very first delivery, picking the wicket of Patel off his own bowling. Patel's 22-ball 24 had a boundary and a six as Punjab found themselves at a precarious 85/4.
With Miller and Maxwell at the crease, Punjab's hopes for a turn-around could never be written off and the duo ensured their side got those two vital points.
While Maxwell belted two boundaries and four massive sixes, Miller dispatched the ball once to the fence and twice over it.
Earlier, riding on a disciplined bowling effort, Kings XI restricted Pune to 163/6 in the afternoon match of the double-header.
Pune were rescued by the late order heroics of their English import Ben Stokes, who brought up his maiden half century, 50 off 32 balls, along with Manoj Tiwary, who remained unbeaten on 40 off 23 deliveries.
Stokes lived up to his billing of being the costliest buy in this year's IPL auctions. After getting a feel of the wicket, the southpaw used the long handle quite well to spank left-arm spinner Axar Patel for a four and a six off consecutive deliveries.
Joined by the in-form Manoj Tiwary (40 not out), Stokes brought up a 61-run fifth wicket stand, as he completed his maiden IPL half ton with a deaf touch to long on off Stonis.
In the very next over, Patel ended Stokes' resistance with a simple return catch off his own ball but could not stop Daniel Christian (17) and Tiwary to throw their bats around in the last couple of overs as Pune milked 30 runs to take their score to 163.