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Cricket | IPL

Saini helps Punjab to narrow win

Nitin Saini cruised to a fifty to lead the Kings XI Punjab to narrow four-wicket wicket win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore on Wednesday.

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Saini constructed a well-paced 50 off 36 balls with five fours as Punjab, chasing Bangalore’s 158 for five, reached 163 for six with one ball of their innings remaining.

The 23-year-old Saini was aided in his efforts by David Hussey, who was in a belligerent mood as he bashed his way to 45 off 29 balls with two fours and four sixes , as the duo put on a 73-run third-wicket partnership off 7.3 overs.

However, despite Saini’s knock Punjab made life difficult for themselves with some suicidal running towards the backend of their innings

Saini took his team to the brink of victory but, with 13 runs needed off 22 balls, the right-handed batsman was caught at mid-off off the bowling of seamer Andrew McDonald.

Saini’s dismissal heralded the start of a collapse as Azhar Mahmood (2), Hussey and Abhishek Nayar (2) were all run out in the space of seven balls as the visitors plunged from 146 for two to 154 for six.

Punjab began the last over of the match needing five runs to win and Piyush Chawla (6 not out) finally settled the contest by striking the penultimate ball of the innings, bowled by seamer Vinay Kumar, for six.

Punjab’s innings had been anchored by Mandeep Singh as the opening batsman crafted his way to 43 off 24 deliveries before he attempted a sweep shot against left-arm spinner KP Appanna and was trapped leg-before to leave the visitors on 73 for two in the ninth over.

Chris Gayle had earlier blasted his way to a half-century for the hosts who have now lost two games on the trot.

Gayle smashed his way to 71 off a mere 42 balls while striking six fours and four sixes as he and Virat Kohli put on 119 runs for the second wicket off 13.5 overs.

Kohli played second fiddle to Gayle but still managed a more than respectable 45 off 42 deliveries.

Pakistan-born seamer Azhar Mahmood was the stand-out performer with the ball as he captured 3-20 off four overs.

The second-wicket stand was finally ended when Gayle, who brought up his fifth fifty in this year’s IPL off 32 balls, was caught by substitute fielder David Miller at deep square leg off the bowling of Mahmood.

It was a bittersweet moment for Miller who had dropped Gayle when the batsman had scored 39.

Punjab had won the toss and elected to field and, initially, the decision looked to have been a good one as the hosts struggled to 64 for one after 11 overs on a pitch which offered up some appreciable seam movement for the new-ball bowlers.

Seamer Praveen Kumar, who bowled an unchanged spell with the new ball, returned the impressive figures of 4-0-8-0, the third most economical figures in IPL history.

But Gayle and Kohli upped the ante as they plundered 53 runs off three overs between from the 11th to the 13th overs.

Gayle showed his immense strength as he smashed a massive six measuring 111 metres, the biggest of this year’s IPL, off the bowling of medium-pacer Abhishek Nayar.

The left-handed Gayle was dismissed in the 16th over before Kohli was bowled by leg-spinner Chawla an over later.

The departure of Gayle and Kohli slowed the run-gathering and Mahmood nabbed his second wicket, in the last over of the innings, when he had Andrew McDonald (9) caught behind by keeper Nitin Saini.

Mahmood struck again two balls later when he had AB de Villiers (17) caught off a full toss at mid-on.

ROYAL CHALLENGERS BANGALORE – Andrew McDonald, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Saurabh Tiwary, Mayank Agarwal, Daniel Vettori (capt), Asad Pathan, Vinay Kumar, Zaheer Khan, KP Appanna.

KINGS XI PUNJAB – Mandeep Singh, Shaun Marsh, Azhar Mahmood, David Hussey (capt), Paras Dogra, Abhishek Nayar, Piyush Chawla, Nitin Saini (wk), Praveen Kumar, Ryan Harris, Parvinder Awana.


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