Friday, April 2, 2010

Pietersen, Uthappa star as Punjab lapse again

Kevin Pietersen's composed unbeaten 66 anchored Royal Challengers Bangalore to a narrow six-wicket victory as Kings XI Punjab plummeted to a new low at Mohali on Friday.

Pietersen struck the winning runs with five balls to spare as Bangalore recovered from a shaky start after losing the set Virat Kohli at a crucial juncture. Kohli's dismissal, however, brought the hard-hitting Robin Uthappa to the crease, who didn't disappoint as he helped the scoring rate by hammering 25 runs in a Brett Lee over, effectively putting it past the hosts.

Uthappa smoked a mere 8-ball 22 in a sparkling cameo and provided just the push Bangalore needed. Chasing 182, the visitors were off to a modest start after losing the prolific Jacques Kallis for nine. Manish Pandey and Pietersen helped Bangalore along but Pandey's wicket pegged them back.

Virat Kohli combined admirably with Pietersen for 76-run stand with a useful 26-ball 42 while the England star faced 44 balls. Punjab's poor catching helped Bangalore's cause as four of them went down.

Earlier, Ravi Bopara scored an unbeaten 42 off 33 balls while Yuvraj Singh showed signs of a return to form with a fluent 20-ball 36 as Kings XI Punjab posted a defendable 181-5.

Yuvraj, cheered on by a vociferous home crowd following a prolonged lean patch and rumours of a fallout with his teammates, was primed for an onslaught after captain Kumar Sangakkara had laid a solid platform for the team with a 45-run burst. The elegant left-hander, however, fell in a bid for quick runs after hitting three fours and two sixes.

Despite losing in-form opener Shaun Marsh early after electing to bat, Sangakkara gave Punjab a flying start along with Manvinder Bisla. Sangakkara's 27-ball knock set up the rest of the batsmen to build on, and Yuvraj and Bopara didn't disappoint. Irfan Pathan took over from Yuvraj and his 4-ball 15 propelled them to a competitive total.

Kings XI Punjab suffered seventh loss from eight matches, while Royal Challengers registered their fifth win from eight matches and moved to the second spot in the points table of IPL THREE.

Royal Challengers Bangalore 184 for 4 (Pietersen 66*, Kohli 42) beat Kings XI Punjab 180 for 5 (Sangakkara 45, Bopara 42*, Yuvraj 36) by six wickets

Player of the match KP Pietersen (Royal Challengers Bangalore) 

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