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Bopara guides Punjab to first victory

By Harish Kotian
Last updated on: April 25, 2009 00:16 IST
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- Scorecard

Ravi Bopara produced a late charge to lead Kings XI Punjab to a convincing seven-wicket victory and consign Bangalore Royal Challengers to their third consecutive defeat in the Indian Premier League, in Durban, on Friday.

The England all-rounder blazed 84 from 59 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and five sixes, as Punjab, chasing 168, cruised to 173 for three in 19 overs. In the process they registered their first victory in the tournament.

Yuvraj Singh finished things in style with a quickfire 30 from 17 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and a six, as Punjab hammered 64 runs in the last four overs.

Earlier, South African Yusuf Abdulla took four for 31 and Irfan Pathan three for 35 to restrict Bangalore to 168 for nine in their 20 overs. Jacques Kallis hit 62 from 46 deliveries, but his dismissal in the 17th over saw Bangalore lose their way in the final few overs.

In a bid to strengthen their batting, Royal Challengers dropped fast bowler Dale Steyn and included Ross Taylor as the fourth international player.

After looking at the good batting track, captain Kevin Pietersen had no hesitation in electing to bat on winning the toss.

Jesse Ryder must have heaved a sight of relief when he finally got his first runs in the tournament. The left-hander crashed debutant Ranadeb Bose through the covers for a boundary off the third ball of the match. It ended his run of two consecutive ducks in previous innings.

At the other end, Irfan Pathan struck with his first delivery, claiming the wicket of Robin Uthappa for a duck. The left-arm pacer sent down a wide delivery and Uthappa promptly went after it, but could only edge it straight to Yuvraj Singh at first slip. (6-1, 1.1)

Jacques Kallis showed intent from the moment he came out to bat, smashing the third ball he faced from Pathan for a huge six over square leg.

With the monkey off his back, Ryder showed why he is rated as one of New Zealand's best contemporary batsmen. He hit a flurry of boundaries, thumping Bose for four in the third over, three through the off-side and one through the leg, to race to 24 from 12 deliveries.

Bangalore, despite the early reverse, were off to a flier -- 32 for one in three overs.

Ryder was going at full throttle, but lost his wicket against the run of play. The Kiwi left-hander tried to heave Abdulla on the leg side but failed to read the slower delivery and was bowled. He scored 32 from 21 deliveries, inclusive of six boundaries, and added 42 runs in 4.1 overs for the second with Kallis. (48-2, 5.2 overs)

But the wicket of Pietersen for a duck two balls later brought Punjab right back into the contest. The England batsman appeared caught in two minds and checked his drive off Abdulla at the last minute, only to end up offering an easy catch to the cover fielder. (48-3, 5.4)

Pietersen, the costliest player in the tournament, is turning out to be the biggest bother for Bangalore. He has just 43 runs in four innings at 10.75 to his name.

Leg-spinner Piyush Chawla started off well, conceding just four runs in his opening over, which prompted Yuvraj to bring himself into the attack.

The two spinners bowled four overs between themselves for 22 runs as Bangalore reached 71 for three in 10 overs at the 'strategy break'.

The pressure paid off immediately after the break as Chawla got the key wicket of Rahul Dravid for 10 (13 deliveries). The veteran batsman tried to break the shackles, but as he stepped down the wicket against the young leggie, he could only hole out to VRV Singh at long-on. (73-4, 10.3)

Chawla made the difference for Punjab with his miserly bowling, giving away just 10 runs in his first three overs, without a single boundary.

Kallis though tried to ensure that runs kept flowing at a fair rate as he slammed a huge six off Yuvraj's next over.

Interestingly, part-time medium pacer Bopara came into the attack ahead of regular VRV Singh. He bowled a tight first over, giving away four runs, but after him VRV conceded 14 runs in his opening over as Bangalore reached 105 for four in 14 overs.

Kallis brought up his half-century with a double on the leg-side off Chawla from just 38 deliveries, hitting four boundaries and two sixes.

He and Taylor then looked to up the ante, getting a couple of 13-run overs against Chawla and Pathan that took Bangalore to 131 for four in 16 overs.

Kallis was dismissed in the 17th over when he smashed a short delivery straight to the square leg fielder and became Abdulla's his third victim of the innings.

The South African all-rounder hit 62 from 46 deliveries, inclusive of five boundaries and two sixes, and was involved in a 61-run partnership in six overs for the fifth wicket with Taylor. (134-5, 16.3)

Virat Kohli did not contribute much, out for 2 after chipping VRV straight to Bopara at mid-wicket. (142-6, 17.4)

Abdulla had figures of 3 for 14 in his first three overs, but things went terribly wrong in his fourth over, the 19th, as Taylor and Praveen Kumar smashed a six each.

But he had something to smile about in the end when he got Taylor caught by Mahela Jayawardene at square leg. Taylor scored 35 from 22 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and two sixes. (159-7, 18.4)

Pathan started the final over, claiming two wickets with his first two deliveries. Kumar, who scored 13 from 7 deliveries, was leg before wicket, while Pankaj Singh was bowled by a superb yorker from the left-armer.

In the end, it seems Bangalore finished with around 10-15 runs short on a good batting wicket. With some solid batting at their disposal and the weather looking perfect, Punjab start as favourites in the run-chase.

Bopara blazes

Praveen Kumar made a good start with the ball giving away just eight runs in his first two overs as Punjab were restricted to 29 for no loss in the first four overs.

Karan Goel got a lifeline, on 16, when his powerful cut shot off Vinay Kumar in the sixth over was dropped by Virat Kohli at point.

The first six overs of fielding restrictions saw Punjab openers, Goel and Ravi Bopara, resort to a more conservative approach as they reached 44 for no loss.

However, against the run of play Goel was run-out by a brilliant piece of fielding by Vinay Kumar at fine leg. The left-hander, attempting a second run, was dismissed for 19 off 19 deliveries, having added 52 runs for the opening wicket in 6.4 overs. (51-2, 6.4)

Two deliveries later, Bopara, on 24, got lucky when his edge off Kallis just flew wide of a diving Uthappa behind the wickets.

Pietersen came into the attack in the seventh over and nearly struck with the wicket of Kumar Sangakkara, but to his dismay Rahul Dravid grassed a simple chance. Sangakkara (2) walked down the wicket and tried to hit Pietersen but got a leading edge, which Dravid failed to hold on to.

Sangakkara, however, got it right when he slammed Pietersen for a boundary and six in the 10th over to take Punjab to 80 for one after 10 overs.

However, two quiet overs followed with Kumble conceding four and Ryder giving away seven as Punjab reached 91 for one after 12 overs, needing another 78 runs from 48 deliveries.

The pressure tactics paid off when a frustrated Sangakkara hit Kumble straight to Pankaj at long-off. The Sri Lanka wicketkeeper made 28 from 16 deliveries, but, at the other end, Bopara was unable to get going as the two batsmen added 40 in 35 deliveries for the second wicket. (92-2, 12.3)

With every tight Kumble over things were getting difficult for Punjab. The veteran leggie conceded just 19 runs in his four overs and Punjab had the challenging task of scoring 60 from the last five at 12 runs per over.

Bopara then decided it was time to take on the bowlers. He brought up his half-century in 46 deliveries with a huge six on the leg side off Kumar and followed it up with another six and boundary to amass 19 runs from the 16th over.

Another productive over followed when Yuvraj smashed Kallis for two boundaries as 13 runs came from the 17th over.

Punjab needed another 28 from three overs.

Bopara then sealed the deal for Punjab with two huge sixes off Ryder in the 18th over, leaving his team to score 11 off the last two overs.

He fell in the next over when he tried another big shot but was caught by Ryder off Kallis. The England all-rounder had single-handedly sealed victory for Punjab with his blazing knock of 85 from 59 deliveries, inclusive of four boundaries and five sixes. (158-3, 18.1)

His partnership with Yuvraj yielded 66 runs from 34 deliveries as the Punjab batsmen showed great composure in the middle overs to rescue their team from a difficult position.

Captain Yuvraj finished the match in style when he slammed Kallis for a straight six, which was also the 100th six of the IPL second season.

He was unbeaten on 30 from 17 deliveries, inclusive of three boundaries and a six, as Punjab broke their duck in the tournament.

It was another disappointing display by the Bangalore bowlers as they never really threatened despite Punjab facing a challenging score.

Kumble went for 19 in his four overs, but the rest of the bowlers struggled to make it count when it mattered and conceded 173 in 19 overs, which should be a major worry for the team.

For Punjab, it was the Bopara show all the way. Despite a sedate start, the 23-year-old kept his cool and chose the right time and right bowlers to make a final assault.

The major difference between the two sides was the number of dot balls they had. While Bangalore had 48 in their innings, Punjab had just 27 when they batted.

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Harish Kotian

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