Vijay, Vohra help Punjab to first IPL win

Mohali: Openers Murali Vijay and Manan Vohra produced excellent batting performances as Kings XI Punjab posted their first win of the season, outclassing Rising Pune Supergiants by six wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium here on Sunday. This was the first win for Punjab this season. They suffered a poor start as they were beaten comprehensively in both their earlier matches. Pune, who are in their debut season in the IPL, suffered their second defeat. The visitors had an excellent start to their campaign when they thrashed defending champions Mumbai Indians by nine wickets in the tournament opener. But they lost their second game to fellow IPL debutants Gujarat Lions by seven wickets. Needing 154 runs for a win in front of their home crowd, Vijay and Vohra saw Punjab off to an excellent start with a couple of half-centuries each. Vijay was the top scorer for Punjab with 53 runs off 49 deliveries, hitting five boundaries and two sixes. Vohra was in equally good form at the other end, smashing 51 runs off 31 balls with seven well-stroked boundaries. Leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin brought Pune back into the game when he removed Shaun Marsh, Vijay and David Miller in quick succession. But Glenn Maxwell plundered 32 runs off just 14 deliveries to seal the issue for Punjab. The star Australian batsman fittingly hit the winning runs when he smashed Thisara Perera for a boundary. Murugan Ashwin ended with figures of 3/36 while fellow spinner Ankit Sharma (1/27) also claimed a wicket. Earlier, opener Faf du Plesis batted through the innings to post a gritty half-century as Pune reached 152/7 after electing to bat first. The South African right-hander scored 67 runs and was involved in two crucial partnerships with Kevin Pietersen and Steven Smith before falling in the final over of the innings. His 53-ball innings was studded with eight hits to the fence. For Punjab, medium-pacer Mohit Sharma bagged three crucial wickets for figures of 3/23. His fellow pacer Sandeep Sharma was also very economical, returning 2/23 in his four overs. Pune's other opener Ajinkya Rahane (9) showed glimpses of form, stroking two well-timed boundaries during his brief 11-ball stay at the crease. The 27-year-old was unlucky to be dismissed in single digits when his mistimed attempt to play a Sandeep Sharma delivery to the onside led to an inside edge onto the stumps. Pietersen joined du Plesis in the middle and proceeded to play the anchor's role with a run-a-ball 15 as the Proteas T20 skipper kept up a healthy run rate from the other end. The added 55 runs between them off 35 deliveries.  After Pietersen and Thisara Perera went back in quick succession, Smith and du Plesis bolstered the innings with a 63-run partnership. Smith contributed 38 runs off 26 balls before a clever change of pace from Mohit Sharma forced him to mistime an attempted big hit and David Miller pulled off a relatively easy catch. If Pune fans had hoped to see their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni produce some of his trademark slam bang shots, they were left disappointed as the visitors lost three wickets in the final over to finish their innings in a rather tame fashion.