Underdogs Kings XI Punjab scored an upset seven-run victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in an Indian Premier League match, in Chennai, on Saturday.
Defending a target of 157, Punjab bowlers led by all-rounder Azhar Mahmood held their own at the death as they restricted the much-vaunted CSK batting line-up to 149 for eight, at MA Chidambaram Stadium.
Chennai stay put on third with nine points from as many matches while KXIP are on eight points but occupy the eighth position despite their fourth win.
Parvinder Awana, Praveen Kumar and Mahmood kept their nerves in the final three overs when CSK needed 39 runs which is considered a gettable target in the shortest format. The three medium pacers bowled a fuller length hardly giving any room to the opposition batsmen who stuttered and lost wickets at regular intervals.
Mahmood played an useful hand with the bat too, scoring a quickfire 18 from 12 balls and then had impressive figures of three for 25 which also included the prize-scalp of Albie Morkel who was accounted in the first delivery of the final over.
Chennai got off to blistering start with a 47-run opening stand between Subramaniam Badrinath and Faf du Plessis in 5.3 overs. In-form du Plessis made 29 off 20 balls with the help of three fours and two sixes while Badrinath's 18-ball 25 consisted of four boundaries.
Both set the tone for the chase before du Plessis was caught and bowled by Mahmood. Mahmood dismissed Badrinath in his second spell when the batsman was caught at the square leg boundary.
The dismissal of Badrinath in the eighth over dried up runs for the defending champions. Suresh Raina (15) and Wriddhiman Saha (6) found the going tough against Punjab's spin and pace duo of Piyush Chawla and Awana.
The pressure exerted by the Punjab bowlers resulted in the wicket of T20 specialist Suresh Raina, who was stumped by keeper Nitin Saini off Chawla.
Chawla, who conceded 27 runs in the penultimate over against Mumbai Indians, gave Chennai huge blows by dismissing Raina and Ravindra Jadeja (17). Saha and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (1) too perished in quick succession as Chawla, Bhargava Bhatt and
part-timer David Hussey bowled well in tandem.
Punjab rocked Chennai's chase with quick strikes to reduce the defending champions to 98/6 in 14.4 overs and pile more misery on them.
Earlier, Chennai made a stunning fightback as their bowlers scalped six wickets in the last five overs to restrict Punjab to 156 for 8.
Opener Mandeep Singh struck his maiden IPL half-century to help Punjab reach 156, but it was less than what they looked set to achieve after a rollicking start.
Punjab batsmen committed hara-kiri as they lost six wickets for just 27 runs at the end. From a comfortable 127 for three in 15.5 overs, visitors' batting line-up collapsed like a pack of cards.
Off-spinner Ravichandaran Ashwin dried up the runs early, before Chennai's trio of overseas medium-pacers, Nuwan Kulasekara, Morkel and Dwayne Bravo, made sure there was no late flourish from Punjab.
Opting to bat, Mandeep scored a composed 50-ball 56, laced with five fours and a six, while Marsh played a fine 22-ball 32 knock, hitting four fours and a six.
Promoting Marsh to the opening slot paid rich dividends as he along with Mandeep shared a valuable 68-run partnership for the first wicket in 8.1 overs.
Marsh was caught out of his crease by a straight hit from Mandeep that ricocheted off the bowler Ashwin's boot onto the stumps.
Mahmood joined Mandeep in the middle and smashed Ravindra Jadeja for two huge sixes before getting out for 18. It was Bravo who removed Mahmood in the 12th over.
David Miller then continued for a while with Mandeep before Morkel sent him back and that triggered the collapse.
Morkel wreaked havoc as he scalped both captain Hussey (7) and Chawla (0) in quick succession, with Bipul Sharma getting run out.
The South African finished with 3 for 29, while Bravo accounted for two wickets.