The class of Sangakkara

Kumar Sangakkara's 94 off 56 deliveries laid the foundation for Kings XI's challenging 182. The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper smashed a six and 13 boundaries before being dismissed in the 19th over.-AKHILESH KUMAR

Both the teams, Punjab and Mumbai, were without a win. The former played with greater intensity to post victory. Rakesh Rao reports.

It was a battle for redemption. Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians had lost their first two matches and now faced each other. Before the start of the Indian Premier League, these two teams were expected to be among the front-runners. But now they were in a situation where they were without a point even as the competition entered the second week.

As it turned out, Kings XI enthralled its supporters at the PCA Stadium with a resounding 66-run victory to open its account.

However, the celebrations of the Punjab team and its supporters ended almost as soon as it began as Harbhajan Singh, captaining Mumbai Indians in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar who is yet to recover from his injury, slapped S. Sreesanth when the players of both teams were shaking hands on the ground before the presentation ceremony.

It was Kumar Sangakkara’s 94 off 56 deliveries that laid the foundation for Kings XI’s challenging 182. The Sri Lankan wicketkeeper smashed a six and 13 boundaries before being dismissed in the 19th over. He added 73 runs for the second wicket with Karan Goel to raise visions of a huge total. However, wickets began tumbling at the other end as Punjab chose to take risks in search of quick runs. But it was to the credit of Sangakkara that he valued his wicket and proved a thorn in Mumbai Indians’ flesh.

The target was not a safe one considering the batting-friendly nature of the PCA pitch. But the total eventually proved adequate as Brett Lee bowled like a man possessed. In his second over, he sent back the openers, Sanath Jayasuriya and Luke Ronchi, off successive deliveries.

He tormented Jayasuriya in the first over and then returned to end his agony with a low return catch. Off the next delivery, when new-man Robin Uthappa tried to steal a run, Lee pounced on the ball and dived forward to break the stumps at the striker’s end with Luke Ronchi well short of the crease.

Lee’s intensity proved infectious as Kings XI bowled and fielded superbly. When Shaun Pollock began to look dangerous, Yuvraj Singh brought off a stunning left-handed catch by timing his jump right.

Before Pollock, three other batsmen — Robin Uthappa, Dwayne Bravo and Saurabh Tiwari — failed to capitalise on the start they got.

The young leg-spinner Piyush Chawla impressed in his four overs, while Irfan Pathan, after getting some stick early in the innings, ended with a decent analysis.

The result raised Kings XI Punjab’s confidence as much as it dented Mumbai Indians’ pride.

THE SCORES

Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians, PCA Stadium, Mohali, April 25, 2008.

Result: