Inspired spell of bowling by the experienced duo of Praveen Kumar and Azhar Mahmood helped Kings XI Punjab pip Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in a thrilling Indian Premier League match and keep themselves in the play-offs contention, in Bangalore, on Wednesday.
Praveen bowled a sensational spell after inviting hosts to bat as he gave away just eight runs in his four overs and seasoned Mahmood took three wickets at the expense of just 20 runs to restrict hosts to 158 for five.
Bangalore owed their total to Chris Gayle's blazing 71 off 42 balls after they were struggling at 59 for one in 10 overs at one stage.
Chasing a modest 159 for victory, Punjab had some very anxious moments before crossing the line as they lost Azhar Mahmood (2), skipper David Hussey (45) and Abhishek Nayar (2) through freak run outs in a space of eight balls towards the end to almost give away the win to rivals on the platter.
However, Piyush Chawla struck a six in the penultimate ball of the match to ensure that his side jump to fourth place in the table from a dejecting eighth spot.
Nitin Saini (50 off 36 balls), Mandep Singh (43 off 30) and skipper Hussey batted with sheer determination before the unnecessary run outs.
Saini shared a match-winning partnership of 73 runs for the third wicket with Hussey (45 off 29) to lay foundation for the win.
However, Punjab made it tough for themselves as Mahmood lost wicket in the fourth ball of the 17th over and Hussey and Nayar were out in the 19th over bowled by Zaheer Khan, leaving Punjab to score five off six balls.\
Vinay Kumar did not concede a run in the first two balls of the final over but Paras Dogra managed a couple off the third to make it three runs off three balls.
It became two off two when Dogra took a single in the next ball and then Piyush Chawla ended supense with a big six.
Following this result, Punjab (-0.280) and Mumbai Indians (-0.187) both have 10 points but the latter are placed third due to a better run rate.
Punjab had almost undone the good work done in the start by conceding 99 runs in the last 10 overs and similarly they almost snatched defeat by losing three wickets after being placed comfortably 146 for three in the 17th over.
Punjab made a decent start to the chase, if not a fiery one. They lost two wicket in the first 10 overs but put on 80 runs, which meant they were very much in the hunt.
They lost Shaun Marsh (8) early when he was castled by Andrew McDonald and then Mandeep but the Indian had done a good job for his side by smashing 43 off 30 balls.
Mandeep in company of Saini put on 35 for the second wicket before being trapped by left-arm spinner K P Apanna.\
Earlier, Punjab did everything right till the first half of the innings after winning the toss but script changed in the last 10 overs as they conceded 99 runs.
Led by Praveen Kumar, who bowled a sensational spell of 4-0-8-0, Punjab were brilliant in the first 10 overs as they had restricted the host to 58 for one despite the presence of Gayle.
Gayle was on 39 when he was dropped by substitute David Miller in the first ball of the 13th over off Parvinder Awana. The West Indian opener creamed Awana for two fours and a six in the same over to shift the momentum for his side.
Gayle and Virat Kohli (45 off 42) shared a 118-run partnership for the second wicket.
Mahmood's strikes in the end helped Punjab restrict Bangalore to a total which was manageable for their batsmen.
Mahmood (3/20), not only dismissed Gayle but also scalped Andrew McDonald and AB de villiers in the final over of the innings.
However, the way Punjab had dominated the proceedings in the first-half, they would have been disappointed to have let Bangalore let off the hook.
Gayle, who was scratchy and uncomfortable with Praveen's moving ball early in the innings, thrashed Australian pacer Ryan Harris for three consecutive boundaries in fourth over of the innings.
Kohli played patiently from the other end and looked to build the innings instead of going for his shots. Gayle brought 50 runs on the board for RCB with a massive six off Chawla, who leaked 29 runs in his first two overs.
Soon Gayle posted RCB's total to 100 in the 13th over when he showed disdain to Parvinder Awana by tonking him to a massive six. Before that Gayle reached to his half-century cutting Awana for a boundary.
Kohli joined the party in the next over, belting Abhishek Nayar for a six to bring up the 100-run partnership with Gayle in the 14th over. Gayle then smacked him for a six.
Seasoned campaigner Mahmood brought relief for his side by breaking the Gayle-Kohli partnership of 118 runs.
He had Gayle caught at deep midwicket by Miller after he had scored 71 runs off 42 balls with four hits to the fence and as many over the ropes.
RCB quickly lost another wicket in Kohli when Chawla came back strongly in the 17th over.
In an attempt to raise the tempo, de Villiers fell to Mahmood after scoring 17 from 13 balls. He was caught by Chawla at mid-on.