In the first afternoon match of the IPL 2017, Kings XI Punjab beat Rising Pune Supergiant by six wickets at Indore. Pune batted first and put on a decent score of 163 on the board but Glenn Maxwell's quickfire 44 helped Punjab to start their campaign on the best possible note.
This was Pune's eighth straight loss when batting first and Steve Smith will look to correct that dubious record.
Captaining for the first time in his senior career, Glenn Maxwell chose to bowl first which was a surprise considering the fact that seven out of 10 times, the team batting first had won the game at the Ahilyabai Holkar stadium. He chose to give a debut to Punjab's new INR 3 crore recruit Thangarasu Natarajan while the duo of Eoin Morgan and Darren Sammy was kept out.
Pune made two changes to the team which defeated Mumbai in a thriller as Dan Christian replaced Adam Zampa while 17-year-old Rahul Chahar made his t20 debut.
Punjab started their innings in the best possible manner as Mayank Agarwal was castled by Sandeep Sharma in the first over. Mohit Sharma and Sandeep kept the score on a halt for Pune as Steve Smith and Ajinkya Rahane found it tough to get going. After the power play, Pune were in a bit of a spot at 36/1.
In a bid to increase the run rate, Smith and Rahane decided to up the ante when calamity struck for them. In the space of two overs, both the batsmen who won the game for the Supergiant against Mumbai were out which turned the course of the game.
Rahane departed first from a full outside off delivery by Natarajan but could not find the gap as India's test vice captain handed an easy catch to Marcus Stoinis at cover.
Smith soon followed him as a leading edge from a back of a length delivery caused his departure. Manan Vohra took a well-judged catch at deep square on Stoinis’s delivery. This turned out to be the ‘turning point’ of the match as Punjab dismissed both main players of Pune's strong batting lineup in quick succession.
Pune were short at the end by 20 runs and it was this double blow for the visitors which proved costly for them. Natarajan and Stoinis provided a break to the scoring rate in their opening spell which helped Punjab to restrict them to a slow start.
Pune managed just 63 runs in the first ten overs for which captain Maxwell deserves utmost credit for using his bowlers well.
The middle order shines for RPS
After being asked to bat first by the debutante captain Glenn Maxwell, Pune posted a decent total on the board as they finished the first innings with 163 runs on the board. Ben Stokes was the top scorer for the Supergiant as he scored his maiden half-century for his side.
Ben Stokes arrived at a difficult stage for the visitors and took some time to get used to the slowness of the pitch. He smashed a six off the last ball of the tenth over from Swapnil Singh which started the onslaught from the all-rounder.
He was soon joined in by Manoj Tiwary who started slowly but then began to get into the groove. Both of them displayed some brilliant shots off any delivery that was bowled full. Stokes dispatched anything that came in his hitting range while Tiwary was effective on the offside against Natarajan and Mohit Sharma.
After Stokes departed, Tiwary and Christian helped them to reach a defendable total after Kings XI Punjab had restricted them to a slow start.
Glenn Maxwell puts on a show for KXIP
It was always going to be a tough chase of 164 for Punjab against a decent Pune bowling lineup. At one time, it was looking like the match would go to the wire until Glen Maxwell arrived at the centre stage. The Australian power hitter came on when his side needed 80 runs from nine overs.
He and Miller were new to the crease as Pune were slowly starting to make an impression of a comeback.
He first bullied the young leggie Chahar and hit him for a huge six before caressing a four from Rajat Bhatia's back of a length delivery. Just like Chahar, Ben Stokes and Imran Tahir were also hit for massive shots by the captain as he completely changed the course of the game within a few overs.
He finished the game with 44 runs from 20 balls and David Miller provided a solid partnership with him as he chipped in with 30 from 27. It was this 79 runs partnership between the two which turned the tide in Punjab's favour.
Hashim Amla and Manan Vohra started the innings in fine fashion and gave Punjab a brilliant start. After Vohra departed, Saha played some glorious shots before being castled on 14 by Imran Tahir. Axar Patel was promoted to number 4 in a surprising decision as he justified that with a well made 24 from 22 deliveries.
It was a professional display by Punjab's blockbuster batsmen but it was the brilliant start by their bowlers in the first 10 overs which helped them to a fine victory.