The Opener

Kings XI Punjab has a formidable record at home (6 wins in 7). So even before the game began, the Delhi Daredevils and their fans (and their supporting blogs) had an excuse in hand, if at all the unthinkable happened. Up against a batting line-up supposedly ‘made in heaven’, Punjab- irrespective of their record at home- were always favorites to get slaughtered.

Buying Parnell in the ‘transfer window’ for that high an amount was a bit odd considering how the likes of in-the form-of-his-life Collingwood can’t seem to squeeze in and how Nannes, a fellow lefty, has been performing. Coming to the match, it was no surprise that the first wicket to fall was via a run out (a caught behind off Nannes would also have evoked the same). That dismissal, in a way, set the tone for how the innings unfolded- everything went according to the script. Nannes was economical while picking up wickets, Maharoof leaked runs while picking up wickets, Mishra looped away, and the others were neither spectacular nor awful to merit mention. One minor plot twist though was AB’s first contribution to this year’s IPL. In his defence (which I shall do often), the backing up was horrid. The sooner he realises he isn’t playing for South Africa, the better it will be for the team and him.

143 to get on an Indian pitch? even RCB will fancy chasing that. So thought Sehwag and returned to the pavilion, saving himself for worthier and nobler pursuits. Dilshan, who has been quite vigorously competing with Sehwag for international batting honors, took Sehwag’s cue and gifted his wicket in a more comprehensive manner, thereby winning the first round between the two. AB came out and ran halfway down the pitch before recognizing his skipper at the other end. He was safe in the end, but doesn’t that mean there was a run in it to begin with? A few overs thus passed and it was becoming increasingly evident that these two din’t have the hots for each other. The end of the partnership was gloriously befitting as AB once again charged down the track, charged the same way back, slid in but unfortunately popped the bat up in the air. There were 12 players on the pitch who were happy when the red light came on.

Karthik pleased everyone with his stroke-play, but after a while he was too pleased with himself and lost his wicket. At 79/4, things were beginning to get a bit shaky but, ‘Fear Not’ screamed the shots coming from the skipper’s blade. Barring one fortuitous inside edge off Sreesanth, the innings of his was chance-less. A bit uncharacteristic of Gambhir, one might be tempted to say. With Minhas holding his own at the other end, Gambhir almost took the team over the line. Minhas eventually clinched it- with two balls to spare- with an emphatic cut, that got the campaign up and running with a not-so-emphatic win.

Inner team battles:

Dishan-1 Sehwag-0

Gambhir-1 AB-0

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