No challenge from home team

Sreesanth sends White on his way.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

Yet again the Royal Challengers capitulated at home and skipper Rahul Dravid had no real explanation. Over to K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

As a school-boy cricketer, S. Sreesanth had played at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. He does feel at home in this venue and it showed as his two-wicket burst in the first over of a DLF Indian Premier League match on a Monday night, set the initial platform for Kings XI Punjab’s six-wicket victory over the home side, Royal Challengers, Bangalore. “As a kid I have played here a lot and all that hard work seems to have paid off,” said Man of the Match Sreesanth .

Chasing Royal Challengers’ 126, Kings XI notched its fifth consecutive victory from seven matches while the home side suffered its fifth defeat from seven outings. Earlier in the night, after Kings XI skipper Yuvraj Singh opted to bowl, Sreesanth scalped Wasim Jaffer with one that swerved away and crashed the next delivery through the gate, beating Cameron White all ends up.

The exodus continued as Jacques Kallis got run out and at 15 for three, Royal Challengers skipper Rahul Dravid, in the familiar role of cementing the cracks, forged a 54-run fourth-wicket partnership with Virat Kohli (34). Dravid’s 66 (51b, 9x4, 1x6), mounted on defence initially, found an aggressive flourish as the innings hustled to its close.

Kohli, after finding his early runs behind the wicket, drove Sreesanth with power and Dravid too cover drove the seamer to help his side stabilise briefly. Kohli, however, failed to build on his start and Dravid, sadly losing partners at the other end, pounded V. R. V. Singh in the arc between point and long-on before finding Jayawardene at third-man. The tail failed to wag and the home side was bowled out for 126 in 19.2 overs. During the chase, Kings XI lost opener James Hopes to Zaheer Khan as a diving Cameron White plucked a brilliant catch. But the cobwebs of self-doubt never shackled Kings XI as Ramnaresh Sarwan’s 31, an innings rich in drives that breached a stretched off-side net, kept the required run-rate well under control.

Sarwan and Yuvraj succumbed to a charged-up seamer Praveen Kumar, but the mid-innings stutter never happened as opener Shaun Marsh (39) displayed a cool head and a welcome movement of feet as he negated Anil Kumble’s guiles with a flurry of shots. Marsh fell to Zaheer, but with Mahela Jayawardene and Irfan Pathan, finding the fence as well as stealing the singles, victory was achieved. Pathan slammed Kumble for six and the next-ball wide helped the visitor seal its triumph. Kings XI scored 127 for four in 18.2 overs. “I am happy with the way the team performed, especially the fast bowlers but our fielding lapses could have proved costly,” said Kings XI coach Tom Moody while a downcast home side skipper Dravid spoke about the need to negate errors as his team makes a bid to redeem itself from the lower half of the points table. “It was one of the best wickets we have played on at home, but we were about 30 runs short and though my fast bowlers tried hard, we didn’t have enough runs on the board,” Dravid said.

THE SCORES

Royal Challengers, Bangalore v Kings XI, Punjab, Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, May 5, 2008.

Result: Kings XI, Punjab won by six wickets.

Royal Challengers, Bangalore 126 in 19.2 overs (V. Kohli 34, R. Dravid 66, Sreesanth 2--16, P. Chawla 3-25) lost to Kings XI, Punjab 127 for four in 18.2 overs (S. Marsh 39, R. Sarwan 31, Zaheer 2-29, Praveen 2-22).