With Balaji’s hat-trick, Super Kings dump Kings XI(Roundup)

May 11th, 2008 - 2:09 am ICT by admin  

Chennai, May 10 (IANS) Comeback man Lakshmipathy Balaji took five wickets, including a hat-trick, and spearheaded Chennai Super Kings to an 18-run victory against Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here Saturday night. It was the tournament’s first hat-trick as Punjab, chasing a target of 182, collapsed to 163 for nine at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium with Balaji returning with figures of 24/5 from his quota of four overs.

The Super Kings thus recorded their sixth win in nine matches while Punjab slid to their third defeat in eight outings.

In a dramatic turnaround, Punjab lost four wickets in three overs as Balaji and Muralitharan picked up two wickets each, reducing the visitors to 97 for five in the 14th over, thus virtually dashing hopes of Yuvraj Singh’s team.

Despite a late blitz by Irfan Pathan (40 off 18 balls), a spectacular final over from Balaji in which he achieved the hat-trick demolished visitors.

The tall fast bowler, on a comeback trail after a two-year break due to injuries, removed Pathan, Piyush Chawla (17) and V.R.V. Singh (0) off three consecutive deliveries.

When they started the innings, Kings XI were very much in the hunt with opener Shaun Marsh (58 off 38 deliveries) going great guns despite the loss of two early wickets.

However, his dismissal in the 14th over triggered a mini collapse and the Punjab team could not recover from the blows with Balaji taking two wickets, those of Marsh and Yuvraj in the same over.

Punjab had begun well after skipper Yuvraj won the toss and asked Super Kings to bat, quickly reducing them to 20 for two.

But Subramaniam Badrinath (64 off 47 balls) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (60 not out off 43) added 91 runs in 64 balls as Super Kings shrugged off a disastrous start to post 181 for four.

Earlier, Super Kings yet again failed to get a good start, losing Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan in the very first over. Vidyut, after playing and missing, hit Sreesanth for two boundaries in the first over, but edged the fourth delivery to second slip where Mahela Jayawardene came up with a brilliant catch.

In his next over, Sreesanth got rid of Stephen Fleming whose poor run in the tournament continued as he off-drove uppishly for Karan Goel to take a simple catch, reducing Super Kings to 20 for two.

Badrinath and Suresh Raina retrieved the situation with some sensible batting to add 44 runs for the third wicket. Just as the pair was looking well entrenched, Raina top-edged a sweep off leg-spinner Chawla to Marsh.

At 64 for three in the seventh over, the innings was poised on knife-edge when Dhoni joined Badrinath and immediately began to time his shots.

Dhoni and Badrinath spared no bowler. The Chennai captain slammed Chawla for two consecutive sixes in his third over while Badrinath was severe on seamer James Hopes who went for a few boundaries.

The pair raised the 100 of the innings in the 11th over with Yuvraj persisting with Chawla who was clearly being targeted. In fact, Chawla conceded 36 runs in his three overs before Yuvraj took him off the attack and brought back Pathan.

Badrinath cut loose with two stunning sixes over long-on and midwicket as the 50 partnership between the duo was raised in 33 balls.

Yuvraj then brought himself on in a desperate bid to break the partnership. However, neither batsman let up with Badrinath reaching his half-century off 33 balls.

The hosts somewhat lost momentum when Badrinath, in a bid to quicken the pace, gave away his wicket, lofting V.R.V. Singh to Yuvraj at mid-off in the 18th over. By then, Badrinath and Dhoni had added 91 off 64 balls for the fourth wicket.

Dhoni then switched gears, lifting Hopes, in the penultimate over, for a straight six to register his half-century off 37 balls as Super Kings picked up another 17-run over. However, Pathan bowled a tight last over, conceding just five runs to peg the Super Kings to 181.

Badrinath’s innings was studded with six boundaries and three over boundaries while Dhoni hit two fours and four sixes.

For Kings XI Sreesanth was the pick of the bowlers taking two wickets for 29 runs of his four overs while Singh and Chawla picked up wicket apiece.

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