Kings XI Punjab produced a clinical performance to thrash Pune Warriors by eight wickets and start their Pepsi Indian Premier League campaign in an emphatic fashion on Sunday.
Angelo Mathews' decision to bat first backfired badly as the home team batsmen produced another inept show posting a meagre 99 for nine in their 20 overs.
The chase was a cakewalk for KXIP as young IPL debutant Manan Vohra sent the Pune bowlers on a leatherhunt, finishing the lopsided contest in only 12.2 overs.
Manan (43 no, 7x4, 1x6) and Mandeep Singh (31) added 58 runs, including 21 in one Ashoke Dinda over, as the Preity Zinta co-owned team finished the match in a jiffy.
The match ended in a dramatic fashion when David Hussey's flick shot was acrobatically caught at short mid-wicket by T Suman off Mitchell Marsh's bowling. But TV replays showed that it was a no-ball and thus KXIP won the match. It was a match in which KXIP outclassed their opponents in every department of the game.
The sheer dominance of the KXIP pacers was evident as the highest partnership for Pune was 25 and the top scorer was Abhishek Nayar with 25. For KXIP, Azhar Mahmood and Praveen Kumar got two wickets apiece, giving away 19 and 31 runs respectively.
The slide started in the very first over as Manish Pandey (0), who has done nothing in the past two seasons to merit a place in the starting XI, failed yet again as he played on off the last delivery of Praveen Kumar's first over. T20 specialist T Suman (6) hit a boundary before holing out at mid-off, with veteran Azhar Mahmood being the bowler.
The Pune batsmen found it difficult to score on a wicket that had spongy bouncy but credit must go to KXIP bowlers as they were consistent in bowling to a particular line.
Marlon Samuels (3) was run-out as Piyush Chawla's immaculate throw landed on top of the stumps and skipper Adam Gilchrist whipped off the bails as the diving Jamaican failed to make his ground. The problems only compounded for Pune from there on.
If that wasn't enough, Chawla ended Pune's 'Million Dollar' recruit Robin Uthappa's misery as a faster one castled the Karnataka batsman, who scratched around for 23 balls to make only 19.
At 33 for four, a lot depended on skipper Mathews, who started well with a boundary, but got out to the best delivery of the innings from Parvinder Awana. Mathews was forced to edge one that had a bit of extra bounce as the ball moved a shade after landing on the good length spot.
At the halfway stage, Warriors were 38 for five with hopes of posting a decent total vanished. There was another misery in store for Warriors as Ross Taylor found out to his amazement. He slog swept a delivery from Praveen and Gurkeerat Mann, fielding in the deep fine leg, took a magnificent one-handed catch diving to his right.
The chase was an easy as Adam Gilchrist welcomed Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a couple of boundaries and a big six to set the ball rolling. Although the former Aussie glovesman holed out for only 15, Manan and Mandeep upped the ante with a flurry of boundaries.
The pitch was a good one and with the ball coming onto the bat nicely, it proved to be a stroll in the park for the Punjab batsmen. The short balls were pulled and the length deliveries were driven with ferocity. When Mandeep was finally bowled by statemate Rahul Sharma for 31 off 26 balls with four boundaries, the match was already in KXIP's pocket.
Photograph: Manan Vohra (BCCI)