Kevin Pietersen hit his first half-century in the IPL to power Royal Challengers Bangalore to a thumping six-wicket victory over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League match, in Mohali, on Friday.
Pietersen finished unbeaten after a smashing innings of 66 from 44 balls, inclusive of seven boundaries and a six, as Bangalore were home with 184 for four in 19.1 overs.
Robin Uthappa played an important cameo towards the end to change the course of the match; he slammed 22 from eight balls. Punjab still had a chance with 48 needed from the last four overs, but Brett Lee was hit for 25 runs in the 16th over to turn the tide in Bangalore's favour.
Virat Kohli scored a brisk 42 from 26 balls before he was caught at deep midwicket, after having added 76 runs in 51 deliveries for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen.
Punjab's fielding was also below standard; they dropped three crucial catches in the closing stages.
Manish Pandey was unluckily run out when the bowler, Bipul Sharma, deflected a straight drive from Kevin Pietersen back on to the stumps.
For once, the tournament's top scorer, Jacques Kallis, failed with the bat; he was caught behind for nine as he edged an outgoing delivery from Shalabh Srivastava.
Earlier, captain Kumar Sangakkara top-scored with a brisk 45 to help Kings XI Punjab post 181 for five in their 20 overs after they elected to bat.
Ravi Bopara was the other major contributor as he made 42 not out from 33 balls, adding 65 runs for the fourth wicket with Yuvraj Singh, who provided the impetus with a quick 36 from 20 balls.
Manvinder Bisla played a steady innings of 28 from 26 balls, adding 63 runs in 44 balls for the second wicket with Sangakkara, before he was bowled by Anil Kumble.
Kings XI Punjab:
Praveen Kumar started off well by giving away just a single in the opening over. R Vinay Kumar continued the good work in the next over by claiming the wicket of opener Shaun Marsh. The left-hander was forced to play at an outgoing delivery which he edged to Rahul Dravid at first slip and was dismissed for two.
Kumar Sangakkara started off with a flourish, slamming Vinay through covers for a boundary off the first ball he faced. The Punjab captain followed that up with another couple of boundaries, square on either side of the wicket, against Praveen in the next over.
The left-hander looked to take the attack to the bowlers as he crashed Dale Steyn through cover for his fifth boundary off the eighth delivery he faced.
Manvinder Bisla also joined in the party and hit Steyn for a couple of boundaries in that over and followed that with another boundary off Vinay in the next.
Jacques Kallis also went for a boundary in his first over, hit by Sangakkara, as Punjab recovered to 41 for one after six overs.
Captain Anil Kumble claimed the second wicket when he bowled Bisla for 28. The right-hander tried to play the paddle sweep against the ace spinner but was beaten all ends up by a full delivery and lost his off-stump as the hosts were reduced to 66 for two after nine overs.
The out of form Yuvraj Singh was peppered with a lot of short deliveries from the pacers at the start of his innings. It was not long before he took on a short delivery from Kallis and sent it into the stands over midwicket for the first six of the innings, in the 15th over. The left-hander was lucky when he tried another pull shot but the top edge flew over the wicketkeeper for a boundary and the total moved to 119 for three after 15 overs.
Yuvraj then went after Kumble as he charged down the wicket and dispatched him over mid-on for his second six in the next over.
The left-hander was dismissed by Kallis when he lofted a full toss to Cameron White on the midwicket boundary; he was out after scoring 36 from 20 balls, inclusive of three boundaries and two sixes.
Irfan Pathan provided the boost in the final over as he hit Praveen Kumar for a boundary and a six; he scored 16 from five balls before he was run out.
Bopara finished unbeaten on 42 from 33 balls as Punjab put up a competitive 181 for five in their 20 overs.
Bangalore's bowlers started off well, but lost the plot somewhat in the middle overs as Punjab scored 62 runs in the last five overs, losing two wickets.
Kumble was once again economical, taking one for 33 in four overs, while Steyn claimed one for 31.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
Punjab's bowlers started well, both Brett Lee and S Sreesanth conceding five runs in their opening overs while giving away a single boundary.
Pandey broke the shackles in the third over when he pulled Lee through the leg side for the first boundary of the innings. The two batsmen looked to lift the scoring rate in the next over as they hit a boundary each off Sreesanth in the fourth over.
For once, Kallis failed with the bat. He was done in by an outswinger from Shalabh Srivastava that he edged behind to wicketkeeper Bisla after scoring nine from 10 balls.
Kevin Pietersen started off in style, hitting a full delivery from Srivastava through covers for a boundary, and then top edged the final delivery for another four in that over.
Piyush Chawla had a disastrous start to his spell; he began with a couple of short deliveries that were hit for a boundary each by Pandey and Pietersen; they took Bangalore to 51 for one after six overs.
Against the run of play, Punjab struck with the wicket of Pandey for 29. Pietersen hit one straight back at the bowler, Bipul Sharma, who deflected it to the stumps, catching Pandey out of his crease.
That wicket saw Punjab pull back things through their spinners, just one boundary and a six coming in the next five overs. Pietersen got the first six of the innings when he hit Chawla down the ground, while Virat Kohli pulled a short delivery from Yuvraj through midwicket for a boundary.
Just 34 runs came from the last five overs as Bangalore reached 85 for two after 11, needing to score 97 from the last nine overs for victory.
Kohli and Pietersen then threatened to take charge as they looked to go after the bowlers. Srivastava should have got the wicket of Kohli (22) who chipped it straight to Sreesanth at long-on, but he lost the ball and let it go through his hands for a boundary.
The two batsmen hit a boundary each in Irfan Pathan's next over to take Bangalore to 122 for two after 15 overs, but they needed another 60 from the last five overs.
Kohli then hit Bipul for a huge six through the leg side but fell two deliveries later as he hit a full toss straight to Pathan at deep midwicket. He played an important innings of 42 from 26 balls, having hit four boundaries and a six, and was involved in an important partnership of 76 runs in 51 deliveries for the third wicket with Kevin Pietersen.
Pietersen (46) should have perished off the next delivery; he charged down the wicket and lofted Bipul down the ground but Bopara, running in from long-off, failed to hold on.
With 48 needed from the last four overs, the match was still up for grabs for both teams. But Robin Uthappa tilted the balance in Bangalore's favour by hitting Brett Lee for 25 runs in the 16th over. He started with a huge six over mid-off and followed it with a straight boundary, and a couple of deliveries later despatched Lee over the midwicket fence for the second six of the over.
Punjab's fielding also didn't help their cause either as Pietersen was dropped twice off Pathan in the 18th over. First Bipul failed to cling on to a tough catch on the cover boundary that allowed Pietersen to complete his maiden half-century in the IPL off 37 deliveries.
Off the very next delivery, Pietersen was dropped by Sangakkara as the Punjab captain ran back from cover and then deflected the ball into the boundary ropes for a four. And to rub salt on Pathan's wounds, Pietersen slammed a full delivery over the cover fielder for the second boundary of the over.
Pathan though had some relief finally when he got the wicket of Uthappa off the final delivery of the over. Uthappa, by then, changed the course of the match with a cracking innings of 22 from eight balls before he was caught behind.
Deservingly, Pietersen finished the match with a boundary as he drove Pathan through cover. The England batsman remained unbeaten on 66 from 44 balls, having hit seven boundaries and a six.
Bangalore reached 184 for four in 19.1 overs and won by six wickets and five deliveries to spare; The victory took them to second in the standings with 10 points from eight matches.
Lee disappointed with the ball for Punjab as he gave away 48 runs in four overs, while Pathan conceded one for 36 in 3.1 overs.
The tournament is as good as over for Punjab, who have now lost seven out of their eight games.