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Murali routs hapless Punjab

Posted by James On 11:29 AM 0 comments

20 overs Kings XI Punjab 136 for 8 (Yuvraj 43, Murali 3-16, Morkel 2-23) v Chennai Super Kings

Muttiah Muralitharan brought out his A game and took out two of the most prolific batsmen from his country, setting up another meagre total from the whipping boys of the tournament so far, Kings XI Punjab. It wasn't as if Chennai Super Kings needed any extra-ordinary bowling effort: the Punjab batsmen were hapless again.

Irfan Pathan, promoted to open the innings, and Yuvraj Singh would have felt the rest of the team had turned on them. They got zero support from the other end, and the two batted together for only nine deliveries. There was a time when Irfan had scored 29 off 17 balls with five crunchy boundaries, but thanks to the struggling Ravi Bopara and Kumar Sangakkara, Punjab were 30 for 1 after five overs. Yuvraj, too, scored 43 out of the 70 runs that came while he was at the crease. He got to face only 28 out of 64 deliveries bowled when in the middle.

Between those spells of ordinary cricket from Punjab came Murali's genius. In his first over, inside the Powerplay, he beat Sangakarra twice in the flight, but the real beauty came in his second. This time he didn't bowl it flat when he saw Sangakkara charging down, just got it to dip more and then the bounce left him high and dry.

Mahela Jayawardene was made to look poorer than that. Murali first beat a late-cut with a topspinner from round the stumps, and then got a flighted offbreak to turn enough to beat the bat and get an lbw decision. At 64 for 4 after 11 overs, Punjab were looking at a freak innings from Yuvraj to keep them alive.

Yuvraj hit four fours and two sixes, but Mohammad Kaif and Manvinder Bisla at the other end never looked like providing him support. Chennai's top-class fielding frustrated Yuvraj further, and Punjab was one big over short of making it a competitive total when he fell in the 19th over.

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