A careless effort from the top order, followed by some tight bowling from the Deccan Chargers spinners, held the Kings XI Punjab to 133 which may not be enough to keep them in the tournament. Kumar Sangakkara led a recovery, after four early wickets, with a 43-ball 56 but he did not stay on till the end to ensure a more competitive total. The fast bowlers, who had conceded wides in their opening spells, returned with disciplined lines and the last three overs went for just 17 runs.
The spinners cashed in on the early collapse and worked over the batsmen by bowling full and using flight to dry up the runs. Sangakkara played it out patiently and made do with singles till there were short and wide deliveries to go after. Rohit Sharma provided enough of those in the 15th over that went for 16 runs. Sangakkara cut the first two for fours and paddled the third to fine-leg for three. After that over, Sangakkara went on the attack; Punjab crossed 100 in the 16th. He launched Harris for a six over midwicket and reached his fifty with a four in the same area. But it didn’t last long as he fell trying to hit another boundary in an RP Singh over that had gone for just six runs.
The start of the innings was action-packed – the first three overs included four wides, one upper-cut six and two wickets. Ryan Harris bowled two wides before Sunny Sohal cut him for a big six over point in an over that cost nine runs. RP bowled a better line, but conceded a wide as well, and Sohal flicked him off the pads for two to mid-on before playing an unnecessary paddle-scoop to pop a catch to Rohit Sharma at short fine leg. Sohal’s opening partner Simon Katich faced his first ball in the third over – from Andrew Symonds. One more wide was followed by some poor running between the wickets which sent Luke Pomersbach back to the pavilion for 1.
Katich hit two fours in the fifth over before lofting an easy catch to Pragyan Ojha at mid-on. Then Yuvraj Singh and Sangakkara began the task of rebuilding the innings; they rotated the strike and Yuvraj picked the boundaries – he swatted a flat six to midwicket off his second ball and drove a four to extra cover. But Venugopal Rao got the better of Yuvraj, even though the batsman looked quite comfortable against his tight offspin. Yuvraj moved across the crease to play the turn but he did not read the faster delivery and was bowled for an 18-ball 20. At the end of ten overs, Punjab were struggling at 55 for 4.
Sangakkara took them past 120 but Harris and RP did not let Deccan’s advantage slip. After RP dismissed Sangakkara, Harris conceded just five in the penultimate over, bowling three short balls in succession to Brett Lee who couldn’t score off any of them. RP had some luck in the final – Irfan Pathan took four runs off the first two before mistiming one to Herschelle Gibbs at long-on – and two of his last three deliveries stayed a touch low. It will take some inspired bowling, along with luck, for Punjab to keep their semi-final hopes alive.