The hapless Pune Warriors finally found some fight in their ranks to hand Kings XI Punjab, another team enduring an equally miserable season, their fifth defeat on the trot with a five-wicket win on Sunday.
Pune, captained by local hero Yuvraj Singh, would have liked to trot home in style but lost a few quick wickets at the fag end of the chase as their batting again showed the inconsistency that has dogged them in the Indian Premier League IV.
Jesse Ryder was out for 15, mistiming his shot against young spinner Bhargav Bhatt. The other opener Manish Pandey played well for his 28 but it was left to Yuvraj Singh in the end to bring the Warriors close to the target. The southpaw made 35 before he was out top edging Shalabh Srivastava's bouncer. While the Warriors are already out of reckoning for a play-off spot, KXIP's chances of qualifying have also been seriously dented.
Kings XI Punjab batsmen had to take the blame after they were stifled for runs by a disciplined bowling unit of the Pune Warriors in yet another low scoring match between the teams. The much awaited debut of Sourav Ganguly did not happen and the prince of Kolkata was resigned to the dugout. Both the teams made a number of changes in their playing eleven in their bid to find the elusive win.
Pune's lone warrior, the 24-year-old leggie Rahul Sharma, provided the initial breakthroughs to put the hosts on the back foot and KXIP never recovered. Just like their first meeting this season, where KXIP mustered just 112, this time also the Pune bowlers had the home team in a quandary. Sharma and South African Wayne Parnell were the pick of the bowlers with Sharma returned impressive figures of 4-0-17-2. Left-arm paceman Parnell also proved a tricky customer, picking up two wickets for 12 runs.
Paul Valthaty, the Kings XI talisman this season, hit a 22-ball 23 until he became the second victim of Sharma. Shaun Marsh was in good touch and hit some lusty blows for his 32. Dinesh Karthik added 30 but once he was gone, things went downhill for Punjab.