Azhar Mahmood’s introduction to the IPL might have been delayed due to visa issues but his impact on proceedings has been instant – His three-wicket haul gave Kings XI Punjab a fighting seven-run win over Chennai Super Kings yesterday.
Unlike their previous match, where they gave away 32 to hand Mumbai Indians an unlikely win, only 24 were given away this time with just nine in the final over bowled by Mahmood. With 17 needed by Chennai in front of their home crowd, Mahmood dismissed Albie Morkel (eight) off the first ball.
Chennai did get a boundary off the third ball but accurate death-bowling ensured Punjab did not rue a 15-run penultimate over bowled by Praveen Kumar.
Earlier, Punjab were indebted to opener Mandeep Singh’s 50-ball 56 for crossing the 150-run mark. A 68-run opening stand with Shaun Marsh predicted a high scoring match but Punjab’s inability to press on towards the end of the innings cost them runs that could have cost them the match. Marsha scored a 22-ball 32 but none of the other batsmen were able to cross the 20-run mark.
Morkel remained the highest wicket-taker with three for 29 while Dwayne Bravo took two for 28 off his four overs.
In the end, Mahmood and a rejuvenated Piyush Chawla ensured Punjab were able to defend a modest total.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 29th, 2012.