Shaun Marsh hit a quick-fire 71 and Paul Valthaty smashed 46 runs as Kings XI Punjab spanked Rajasthan Royal by 48 runs to score their third consecutive win in the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Thursday.
Punjab top-order yet again put up a dominating show and helped the side post an imposing 195 for seven, highest total
so far in the fourth edition, after being invited to bat.
Apart from Marsh and Valthaty, skipper Adam Gilchrist (28) and Dinesh Karthik (21) did well for the Punjab on the batting-friendly PCA track.
The hosts then restricted Rajasthan to 147 for seven and jumped to third place in the points table with six points from
three wins in four matches.
Punjab had beaten defending champions Chennai Super Kings and 2009 champions Deccan Chargers in their early outings.
Rajasthan, the 2008 champions, suffered third consecutive defeat and slipped to fifth spot with five points.
The visitors had done well by conceding just 26 runs in the last five overs of the Punjab innings but the total still proved way out of their reach as their batsmen let them down yet again.
A good start was imperative to stand any chance in the contest but the Rajasthan openers -- Rahul Dravid (8) and
Swapnil Asnodkar (9) -- failed to do the job. Big guns such as Shane Watson (24) and Ross Taylor (0) also failed to fire and credit goes to some very disciplined bowling by Punjab bowlers.
Paceman Praveen Kumar (2-22) was very impressive in his opening spell as he bowled Asnodkar early in the innings and
saw the back of the dangerous Watson in his last over. Spinner Piyush Chawla trapped big hitter Taylor for a duck and by the eighth over Rajasthan were out of the contest.
Stuart Binny (30) and Ashok Menaria (34) later hit some lusty shots but their knocks only reduced the defeat margin.
Earlier, Marsh anchored the Punjab innings after the openers -- Gilchrist (28 off 16) and Valthaty (46 off 31) -- provided a flying start by plundering 67 runs in 4.2 overs. Marsh was supported well by Karthik as the two raised 70 runs for the third wicket but the Australian left-hander could not provide the finishing touches as the hosts fell short of the 200-run mark.
Marsh's 42-ball innings was adorned with six fours and three sixes -- all coming in a single over off Shane Warne. The hosts were cruising towards a 200-plus score at one stage as they were 169 for two in 15 overs but Rajasthan bowlers made a good comeback in the last five overs as they gave away just 26 runs and took five wickets.
Australian pace duo of Shuan Tait (3-23) and Shane Watson (2-24) shared five wickets between them and bowled four of the
last five overs. At the start, both Gilchrst and Valthaty were out off no balls in the first and second over respectively and Rajasthan paid a very heavy price for the two mistakes as the hosts went on to rattle up the fastest team-fifty and team-hundred.
In three overs, Punjab had 52 runs on the board with Gilchrist and Valtahty hammering Siddharth Trivedi and Tait all around the park. Punjab skipper was the first to get reprieve as he was bowled off a no ball in the first over off Trivedi, who over-stepped. Then in the second over Tait had Valthaty caught at third slip but on a back foot no-ball.
That proved very costly as Valthaty smashed Trivedi for three fours and two sixes in the next over. A bamboozled Shane Warne introduced himself in the attack but Gilchrist hardly gave any respect to his former Australian teammate as he smashed the leg-spinner for a six over mid-wicket and scored a four in the next ball.
Shane Watson finally provided the visitors a breakthrough by dismissing Gilchrist but Marsh and Valthaty continued to punish the rival bowlers as Punjab raised the fastest team-hundred -- in just 9.2 overs. The hundred came with Valthaty lofting Warne for a huge six on a short ball but the leg-spinner retaliated by having the danger-man caught at long-off on a miscued shot.
Marsh too was in awesome touch and hit some classy boundaries and one such shot was a cover-drive off spinner Abhishek Raut. Marsh then hit Warne for three sixes in the 14th over and raised his fifty in the process. Karthik added salt to the woes of Rajasthan by hitting three consecutive boundaries off Trivedi in the next over.
However, three quick wickets stopped the rot as Shaun Tait dismissed Karthik, Abhishek Nayar (1) was run out and Marsh
got out while attempting another big shot.