Pune Warriors India disappointed yet again as their opponents Kings XI Punjab ruled the roost to launch their campaign on a high. Chasing a below par target of exactly 100, Adam Gilchrist's side cruised to an eight-wicket win over the hapless hosts. The victory was set up by the visitors' seamers who restricted the fragile Pune batting line-up to 99/9. Azhar Mahmood (2/19), Praveen Kumar (2/31), Ryan Harris (1/12) and Parwinder Awana (1/16) bowled splendidly as Pune -who managed just 104 in the 22-run loss to Sun Risers Hyderabad on Friday -came up with another ordinary show with the bat. Leggie Piyush Chawla also bowled a tight spell of 1/19 to play his part.
Abishek Nayar playing against his former team emerged the top scorer for Pune Warriors with an unbeaten 25 (26b, 3x4). Robin Uthappa (19), Ross Taylor (15) and Mitchell Marsh (15) were the other batsmen to reach double figures. Kings XI started the chase aggressively with Gilchrist (15) hitting Bhuvneshwar Kumar for two boundaries and a six in the first over. He was removed by his counterpart Angelo Mathews but Mandeep Singh (31, 26b, 4x4) and Manan Vohra (43 not out, 28b, 7x4) continued the onslaught. Ashoke Dinda gave away 21 runs, conceding five boundaries, four of them to Vohra as the visitors raced to 56/1 in six overs. Both Mandeep and Vohra were let off once and Marsh was the bowler on both occasions. Mandeep was castled by Rahul Sharma but Vohra and David Hussey (8) steered the Punjab side home.
With just one run required to win, the match ended with a bit of drama as Hussey was caught brilliantly by T. Suman at midwicket but the umpire ruled it a no ball after consultation with the third umpire. Earlier, in a massive jolt to the Warriors, their icon player Yuvraj Singh opted out of the game with a back strain. After Mathews won the toss and opted to bat, Praveen Kumar struck in the first over to dismiss Manish Pandey who played on. Yuvraj's replacement Suman struggled and skied one to Praveen off Mahmood. At the first strategic break Warriors were going nowhere at 33/2 with their settled batsman Robin Uthappa (19) back in the hut. That was after Marlon Samuels ran himself out on a non-existent second. Pune's problems were compounded when Mathews fell to Awana and later Gurkeerat Mann pulled off a stunner at fine leg to send the Warriors' last hope Ross Taylor back.
Taylor perished while trying a slog sweep from Praveen Kumar. Marsh tried to up the ante with a flat six and a four off Praveen but he was dismissed by fellow Aussie Ryan Harris first ball after the second strategic time out. Adam Gilchrist, Kings XI skipper, on winning star said "It is a nice start for us". The team owners have put in a lot of effort to shape this team. We are hoping to do well this season. On wicket: The wicket was inconsistent. If you pitch it in the right areas, it's difficult to bat on. But you have to score runs in T20 and there lies chances of picking wick ets. On Warriors' bowling: Wicket wasn't a belter and we had to cash on overpitch deliveries. Manan and Mandeep showed great courage.