Dharamsala, May 17 (IANS) Kings XI Punjab severely dented the chances of Chennai Super Kings qualifying for the playoffs and kept themselves in the reckoning with a convincing six-wicket win in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the picturesque HPCA Stadium here Thursday.
Skipper Adam Gilchrist, making a comeback to the Kings XI set-up after a hamstring injury kept him out of nine matches, scored an unbeaten 64 of 46 balls (9x4, 6x2) to carry his team past the 121-run target set by Chennai.
Thus, Kings XI (16 points) moved into the fifth position behind Chennai (17). Punjab have to play table-toppers Delhi Daredevils while Chennai have finished all their 16 games.
Two wickets each by Praveen Kumar, Azhar Mahmood and Parvinder Awana helped Kings XI restrict Super Kings to a paltry total of 120 for seven and gain two crucial points.
Mandeep Singh (24) and Gilchrist gave their team a sprightly start, scoring 51 in six overs, before the Indian youngster got castled by Albie Morkel. In the absence of Shaun Marsh, Punjab's batting line-up looked thin in star power. Nitin Saini (1) and David Hussey (9) put their team in a spot of bother by getting out in quick succession.
Gilchrist, however, held his end up, hitting out aggressively. He exploded towards the end, scoring 22 runs of Yo Mahesh's 15th over and that sealed the win for Punjab.
Put in on a pitch with a greenish tinge, defending champions Chennai lost Murali Vijay (10) and Michael Hussey (7) without much on the board. Suresh Raina, who is the only player yet to miss a match in the IPL, smacked Mahmood for two sixes. However, he fell caught behind in the same over while slashing at a wide ball.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who promoted himself up the order, again played a lacklustre innings scoring six off 16 balls.
West Indian Dwayne Bravo came to the rescue of Super Kings when his team was reeling at 46 for four in the 11th over. He played a watchful innings of 48 off 43 balls, stringing small partnerships with Ravindra Jadeja (13) and Morkel (14) as Chennai stuttered to a below par score.