Indore, April 8 (IANS) Riding on a disciplined bowling effort, Kings XI Punjab restricted Rising Pune Supergiant to 163/6 in the fourth match of the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Holkar Stadium here on Saturday.
Pune were rescued by the late order heroics of their English import Ben Stokes, who brought up his maiden half century, 50 off 32 balls, along with Manoj Tiwary, who remained unbeaten on 40 off 23 deliveries.
Unlike their previous outing against the Mumbai Indians, Pune were off to a dismal start, losing opener Mayank Agarwal (0) in the very first over and then going without a boundary for the next two overs.
Agarwal was cleaned up by a ferocious inswinger from medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, who became the joint-most wicket-taker with Bhuvneshwar Kumar (Sunrisers Hyderabad), to take 31 scalps in the powerplay overs.
Pune would have suffered another casualty had Manan Vohra latched on to a top edge from Ajinkya Rahane (19) on the second ball of the fourth over from Mohit Sharma.
One ball later, Rahane managed to break the shackles with a six and a four before in-form skipper Steve Smith (26) used the fielding restrictions to full advantage, by striking two consecutive fours in the next over from Sandeep.
Sensing danger, Punjab skipper Glenn Maxwell threw the ball to his latest addition, Tamil Nadu left-arm medium pacer T. Natarajan, who responded immediately by picking Rahane off his second ball.
Rahane, who blasted 60 in the previous match, wanted to slice Natarajan's full delivery over the cover boundary but only ended straight to Marcus Stoinis at sweeper cover.
One over later, Stonis added to Pune's misery with the key wicket of Smith, who holed out a back of a length delivery only to find Vohra at deep square. Smith's 27-ball knock was laced with three boundaries.
Struggling at 49/3, former Pune skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) was joined by all-rounder Stokes and the duo put on 22 runs before rookie left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh got the back of the Ranchi stumper with a simple return catch, which he managed to hold on in the fourth attempt.
With Pune at 71/4, Stokes lived up to his billing of being the costliest buy in this year's IPL auctions. After getting a feel of the wicket, the southpaw used the long handle quite well to spank left-arm spinner Axar Patel for a four and a six off consecutive deliveries.
Joined by the in-form Manoj Tiwary (40 not out), Stokes brought up a 61-run fifth wicket stand, as he completed his maiden IPL half ton with a deaf touch to long on off Stonis.
In the very next over, Axar Patel ended Stokes' resistance with a simple return catch off his own ball but could not stop Daniel Christian (17) and Tiwary to throw their bats around in the last couple of overs as Pune milked 30 runs to take their score to 163.
Brief Scores: Rising Pune Supergiant 163/6 (Ben Stokes 50, Manoj Tiwary 40 not out, Steve Smith 26, Sandeep Sharma 2/33) vs Kings XI Punjab.