Kings XI Punjab announced their arrival in Pepsi IPL 2015 as they defeated the Mumbai Indians by 18 runs at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. After posting a commanding 177 batting first, KXIP decimated the hosts top-order through some relentless fast bowling, and fought off a late assault by Harbhajan Singh and J Suchith – to eventually restrict them to 159 for 7.
MI lost man-in-form Rohit Sharma to the second ball of the chase when Sandeep Sharma got one to move back in sharply and rap the MI skipper on the pads in front of the stumps. Aditya Tare attempted to force the pace but was outsmarted by Anureet Singh and spooned a catch to Murali Vijay at covers. Less than two overs later, Aaron Finch lost his stumps to compatriot Mitchell Johnson.
Reduced to 17 for 3 at the end of the first six overs, it was going to be a herculean task for MI to get back into the contest. Corey Anderson’s dismissal in the eighth over – with the score still 25 – made things that much more difficult. Kieron Pollard gave the MI fans hope briefly when he smashed a four and a six and scored a run-a-ball 20, before an attempt to find the boundary saw him hole out to long off.
Despite being reduced to 59 for 6, debutant J Suchith and Harbhajan Singh did not throw in the towel but instead attempted to enjoy themselves and entertained the crowd with a few big hits. Harbhajan took the lead, smashing the fastest half-century by a Mumbai Indians player in the IPL – off 19 balls; he hit six sixes and four boundaries in his 24-knock of 64. Suchith turned out to be an able aide, scoring 34 from 21 balls. The pair added their first 50 runs in 19 balls and consumed another 20 balls to add the next 50, in the process bringing up the second century partnership of the season. From 59 for 6, it was some effort from the two spin bowler to take their team to 159 for 7. Harbhajan Singh was dismissed off the penultimate delivery of the innings with his team still 19 runs away.
Kings XI Punjab were relentless with the ball. Sandeep Sharma seems to have made it a habit of striking early; he accounted for the MI captain with his second delivery and finished with outstanding figures of 4-1-12-1. Anureet Singh bowled two good overs before his figures were ruined by a late assault by Harbhajan Singh; he finished with figures of 4-0-41-2. Mitchell Johnson was breathing fire right through this spell and finished with figures of two for 23. Axar Patel too was impressive; the left-arm spinner chipped in with two wickets.
Earlier in the evening, on a sporting pitch at the Wankhede Stadium, KXIP were provided a blazing start by their opening pair of Murali Vijay and Virender Sehwag. While the former took the conservative route to score 35, the latter gave those in the stands plenty to cheer as he smashed the Mumbai Indians bowlers with disdain.
Sehwag opened his account with a crisp cover drive. The first three balls of the third over produced 14 runs; the first ball took the inside edge and raced to the boundary, the second ball just managed to clear the ropes at squareleg and the third delivery was cut past point to the boundary. Runs continued to come in a flurry from Sehwag’s blade as he raced to 36 from 18 balls before he stepped out to hit Harbhajan Singh – bowling his first over – into the stands, but miscued and was caught at long on. The opening pair had added 60 before being separated in the seventh over.
Glenn Maxwell provided debutant J Suchith his first IPL wicket after which Harbhajan Singh accounted for Vijay, who had accumulated 35 off 26 balls, in the eleventh over. David Miller wasn’t at his fluent best on the day, yet he and George Bailey, who walked out to bat at number five, added 46 runs in 5.1 overs before Miller edged a Lasith Malinga delivery to wicket-keeper Aditya Tare.
Bailey, who came in for criticism in the previous match, answered his critics in the best possible manner – by scoring runs. He walked out to bat in the eleventh over and batted through to the end of the innings, in the process registering his maiden IPL half-century. Bailey hit four boundaries and three sixes and finished with 61 runs against his name. KXIP finished their 20 overs at 177-5, having added 72 runs in the last seven overs.
Harbhajan Singh bowled beautifully and was the pick of the MI bowlers. On a surface which provided some bounce for the spinners, the MI off-spinner bowled at a very good pace, hit the right areas consistently, bowled his four overs for 20 runs and returned with the scalps of the two KXIP openers. Malinga and Suchith were the two other wicket-takers for the hosts.
Kings XI Punjab 177-5 in 20.0 Overs (George Bailey 61*, Harbhajan Singh 2-20) Mumbai Indians (Harbhajan Singh 64, Mitchell Johnson 2-23)
Man of the Match: George Bailey, for his unbeaten 32-ball 61.