Mohali, May 8 : Pune Warriors finally had reason to smile as they snapped their seven-match losing streak by defeating an equally desperate Kings XI Punjab by five wickets in a low-scoring Indian Premier League match, here today.
With hardly any chance to make the play-off stage, the two bottom-placed teams were playing for pride and the Yuvraj Singh-led Warriors badly needed a win as the story of their humiliation was getting worse with defeat after defeat.
Pune bowlers scripted the win by putting up an outstanding effort as they restricted Punjab to a meagre 119 for eight after the hosts opted to bat first at PCA stadium.
The visitors then chased the small target with 2.5 overs to spare. Skipper Yuvarj Singh led the team to win with a fiery 35-run knock off 15 balls.
Manish Pandey (28) and Jesse Ryder (15) provided Warriors a decent, if not spectacular start, by raising a quick 32 runs but like the Punjab batsmen, they too squandered starts.
Bhargav Bhatt got rid of Ryder and Robin Uthappa (22) also fell after getting a start but Yuvraj ensured that their side do not lose way this time around.
Yuvraj hammered Bhatt for two sixes and two fours in the 15th over, which earned them 22 runs and got out while trying to finish the game in a hurry.
Pune, surprisingly, yet again chose not to include former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who was expected to play his first match of the season-IV today.
Earlier, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma yet again returned exceptional figures as he gave away just 17 runs in his four overs and began the Punjab slide by dismissing openers—Adam Gilchrist (3) and Paul Valthaty (23).
Paceman Wayne Parnell (2/12) also did extremely well as he was the most economical bowler, conceding just 12 runs in his quota of four overs and also struck two blows.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (2/14) and Mitchell Marsh (2/12) all took two wickets apiece.
With this win, Pune have moved to eighth in the points table from 10th while Punjab, who suffered their fifth defeat in a row, are now languishing at the bottom.
Shaun Marsh (32), Dinesh Karthik (30) and Valthaty got starts but could not convert them into big knocks for the hosts.
Punjab kept losing wickets and never had a partnership going. The 30-run stand between Karthik and Marsh was the best and credit goes to some disciplined bowling by Pune bowlers.
Valthaty tried to play sensibly today as he did not go blindly for his shots and waited for the punishable balls. His first four boundaries, three coming in Shrikanth Wagh's first over, were all powerful yet elegant cover drives.
But Valthaty's opening partner and skipper Adam Gilchrist (3) came a cropper yet again as in-form leg-spinner Rahul Sharma had him caught at deep mid-wicket.
Vlathty's self-imposed discipline and some fine bowling by Wayne Parnell and Rahul meant that the hosts managed just 34 runs in the first power-play.
Shaun Marsh, who has been Punjab's main scorer, launched rival skipper Yuvraj for a long-on six but Rahul scalped the danger-man Valthaty, whose attempted cut resulted in an edge and landed in the hands of Bhuneshwar Kumar at backward point.
Marsh (32) and Dinesh Karthik (30) kept ticking the scoreboard with ones and twos and also found a boundary or two in between, taking the team to 71 for two at half-way mark.
The Australian left-hander though could not anchor the innings as he was bowled by Bhuvneshwar, bringing his compatriot David Hussey to the crease.
But Hussey too became a victim of the same bowler in his next over and Punjab's innings was in shambles.
Punjab's problems only compounded as Mitchell Marsh, younger brother of Shaun, dismissed Karthik and Ryan Harris (4) while Parnell accounted for Mandeep Singh (6). PTI