Kings XI Punjab beat Mumbai Indians by 6 wickets | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Kings XI Punjab beat Mumbai Indians by 6 wickets

Kings XI rise to the occasion, spank table-toppers Mumbai Indians. Tendulkar shaped up for a big sweep, only to miss the line and hand over the young leggie his most prized possession. Subhash Rajta reports.

cricket Updated: Apr 10, 2010 00:25 IST
Subhash Rajta

Just when Kumar Sangakkara threw the ball to Piyush Chawla, a journalist wondered aloud, "Why has he been picked for the T20 World Cup?" To be fair, he wasn't the only one to have that feeling; many eyebrows had arched --- not without a reason, though--- when he was picked ahead of the likes of Amit Mishra and Pragyan Ojha.

And the superb performance by these two spinners in the IPL had only accentuated that feeling further. Against this backdrop, Chawla must have been dying to come up with a special effort. His prayers were finally answered on Friday. The leggie conjured up all the tricks he had up his sleeves to finish with an impressive three-wicket haul, including that of Sachin Tendulkar.

The effort was not only the cornerstone of the six-wicket victory that the Kings XI cruised to, but it also would go some distance in relaxing those arched eyebrows.

The leggie got down to business when the Mumbai Indians had just begun to turn on the heat after recovering from the early loss of Shikhar Dhawan. Chawla's first victim was Ambati Rayudu (33), who was going great guns with Tendulkar gradually warming up at the other end. Soon, he befooled danger man Saurabh Tiwary with a googly to have him stumped.

The big wicket, too, didn't take long in coming. Tendulkar shaped up for a big sweep, only to miss the line and hand over the young leggie his most prized possession. Hands high up in the air, Chawla was understandably delirious. It was Tendulkar's wicket here way back in the Challenger Series in 2005 that brought him into the limelight, and it could again do a world of good to him.

He found more than able support in Irfan Pathan, who also picked up three wickets. With Chawla accounting for the middle order, Pathan returned to claim R. Sathish and Kieron Pollard to douse all hopes of the Mumbai Indians.

And then, the batsmen too got their act right, not letting the good work done by the bowlers go waste.

Jayawardene got them off to a flier with a brisk 31 off just 18 balls. Skipper Sangakkara (56), with good assistance from Yuvraj Singh and Irfan Pathan, kept them on track. His dismissal made things a bit tight in the end, but Pathan and Reetinder Sodhi guided the team home.

This was easily the best performance turned in by the Kings XI Punjab this season. It also showed what they are capable of as a team. Unfortunately, it came too late in the day.