Kings XI Punjab eked out a close seven-run win over Delhi Daredevils in Dharamsala on Thursday to keep alive their slim chances of qualifying for the play-offs of the ongoing Pepsi Indian Premier League.
Kings XI first rode on David Miller and captain Adam Gilchrist's whirlwind knocks to post a challenging 171 for four.
Miller scored an unbeaten 44 off just 24 balls towards the end, while Gilchrist made 42 off 26 balls upfront. Shaun Marsh also played a sedate 44-ball 45-run knock to help Kings XI's cause.
Defending the total, Sandeep Sharma returned with figures of three for 23 to help Kings XI restrict Daredevils to 164 for seven.
Chasing 172 for win, Delhi lost Unmukt Chand, Irfan Pathan and David Warner early with just 12 runs on the board. While Chand was bowled by Praveen Kumar, Pathan and Warner were picked up by Sandeep in successive balls in the last two deliveries of the fourth over.
Pathan edged a swinging delivery to Gilchrist behind the stumps and then a ball later Warner departed without opening his account, caught by Marsh in the slips.
Skipper Mahela Jayawardene (39) and Virender Sehwag (30) shared 49 runs off 40 balls for the fourth wicket before the latter edged one to Gilchrist off Parvinder Awana's bowling. Sehwag laced his 22-balls innings with six fours.
Jayawardene and Ben Rohrer (49) then added quick 50 runs off 5.3 overs to keep Delhi's hopes alive. The ever-climbing asking rate finally took a toll on Jayawardene, who was caught by Manan Vohra to give Sandeep his third wicket of the day. He hit three fours and a six during his 42-ball knock.
But Rohrer kept Delhi in the hunt as, needing 41 off 12 balls, the left-hander picked up 19 runs of the penultimate over off Azhar Mahmood to bring dowm the equation to 22 off the final six deliveries.
But it was not to be as Rohrer was bowled by quick Piyush Chawla in the first ball of the last over. New man in Morne Morkel (13) brought Delhi close with some lusty hitting but the visitors eventually fell short.
Earlier sent into bat, Gilchrist got Kings XI off to a blazing start racing the hosts to the 50-run mark in the sixth over. Gilchrist sent the Delhi bowlers on a leather hunt from the word go. He was particularly severe on Ashish Nehra (2-38) as he clobbered the left-arm pacer to all parts of the ground to pick up 27 runs off the bowlers opening two overs.
Gilchrist was going great guns before perishing while going for one too many big shots, caught by Pathan off his own bowling in the eight over. Her hit five fours and two towering sixes.
After the initial onslaught, the Delhi bowlers manged to put brakes on the scoring as Kings XI squandered a bright start to find themselves at 103 for two in the 15th over.
Once Gilchrist departed at the team score of 60, Kings XI's run rate dropped considerably as the hosts scored just 43 runs in the next seven overs losing the wicket of Mahmood (9). Mahmood was caught by Siddharth Kaul off Nehra. Marsh and Miller then stepped up the tempo and smashed Umesh Yadav for two fours and a six to pick up 16 runs off the 16th over.
Marsh, however, departed in the next over, caught at long-on by Pathan off Morkel (1-22). He struck seven fours during his scratchy 44-ball knock. In Miller's company R Satish's played a 13-ball 22-run cameo before being caught by Rohrer off Nehra in the penultimate ball off the innings.
Miller, however, ensured that Kings XI cross the 170-run mark, hitting Nehra for a four off the last ball. The South African struck three boundaries and four sixes during his knock.
Photograph: David Miller (BCCI)