Visakhapatnam: Star batsmen Murali Vijay (54 not out) and Wriddhiman Saha (56) smashed half-centuries each as Kings XI Punjab outclassed Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Friday.
Batting first, defending champions Mumbai lost wickets at regular intervals as they were restricted to 124/9 in 20 overs, thanks to some impressive bowling by Marcus Stoinis (4/15), Sandeep Sharma (2/11) and Mohit Sharma (2/26).
In reply, skipper Vijay and Saha displayed an impressive batting show as Punjab chased down the total comfortably posting 127/3 with 18 balls to spare
Chasing a target of 125, the visitors got off to a poor start, losing opener Hashim Amla (0) in the very first over.
But in-form Vijay, along with incoming Saha, took it from there on and played sensibly to not lose any more wickets and help the team reach 32/1 after the first six overs.
The duo brought up the 50-run partnership for the second wicket and reach 61/1 after 10 overs to stay on course for a much-needed win.
It was an exciting batting display by both the Indian batsmen as they made the chase look as simple as possible.
Without taking any risk and playing proper cricketing shots, the duo added 116-run partnership for the second wicket before Saha was dismissed in the 16th over.
But Vijay kept playing his natural game and remained unbeaten to take team to victory.
Mitchell McClenaghan (2/24) was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai.
Earlier, opting to bat, Mumbai got off to a disappointing start, losing opener Unmukt Chand (0) and No.3 Ambati Rayudu (0) inside the first three overs to have the team on the back foot at 8/2.
Chand’s opening partner and skipper Rohit Sharma (15), along with incoming batsman Nitish Rane (25), held on to take the team to 21/2 after completion of Powerplay.
With the home side going at a poor run rate, Rohit, trying to up the scoring, sought to sweep left-arm spinner Axar Patel but was clean bowled.
His wicket at a crucial juncture brought more troubles for the defending champions as they were down to 36/3 in the ninth over itself.
It was not the end of worries for Mumbai as yet as another set batsman Rane, while looking to score, was caught behind by wicket-keeper Saha off the bowling of Stoinis.
Incoming batsman Jos Buttler (9) too did not trouble the opposition much as half the Mumbai batsmen were back in the pavilion with the team at 61/5 in the 14th over.
Hard-hitter Pollard (27) and Krunal Pandya (19), who were new at the crease, took a bit to settle down but once they got used, took on the bowlers with a couple of boundaries and sixes to put Mumbai back into the game.
The duo helped the side cross the 100-run mark and stay on course for a competitive total.
But the 42-run partnership for the sixth wicket came to an end in the 17th over as Stoinis dismissed Krunal and Pollard in successive balls to put Punjab ahead.
From there on, the home side lost wickets in clusters, losing Tim Southee (1) and Mitchell McClenaghan (4), but Harbhajan Singh (14 not out) with a few blows helped his team cross the 120-run mark.
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 124/9 in 20 overs (Kieron Pollard 27; Marcus Stoinis 4/15) lost to Kings XI Punjab 127/3 in 17 overs (Wriddhiman Saha 56, Murali Vijay 54 not out; Mitchell McClenaghan 2/24.
(With inputs from agency)