Balaji hat-trick ensures Super Kings win over Punjab XI

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Chennai, May 10 (UNI) Tamil Nadu medium pacer L Balaji created history claiming the first hat-trick in IPL T20 in his five wicket haul to bowl Chennai Super Kings to a sensational 18 run win over Kings XI Punjab, who collapsed at 163 for nine in 20 overs at a packed M A Chidambaram stadium here tonight.

It was a sensational come back from injury for Balaji who was playing in front of his home crowd for the first time after making his debut for India in 2005 and being sidelined by a back injury. He had come back to cricket in the match against Delhi Daredevils at Delhi on May 8. Punjab collapsed with Irfan Pathan (40 off 28 balls with three sixes and three fours) and Piyush Chawla (17 off 15 balls, one six and one four). But Balaji struck dismissing Irfan, Piyush Chawla and V R V Singh for zero.

The Punjab team, second behind Rajasthan in the points table with ten points to the former's 12 and hoping to draw level, started off their chase of 182 for a win in great style as openers left hander S Marsh and James Hopes smashed 12 runs off Manpreet Singh Goni's first over. Hopes took 11 runs with a six off the second ball. They were 29 for one in the first four overs.

But disaster struck as the Chennai Super Kings were cock a hoop, dismissing Hopes for 14 off seven balls - one six and one four in the second over and off the third ball of the fifth over of Karan Goel for one. Both the batsmen fell to Goni and the Kings XI were facing the heat at 29-2 in 4.3 overs. After first five overs, the Kings XI needed 147 runs from 85 balls. At 50 for 2 in 7.3 overs the Kings XI needed 131 runs off 74 balls at more than ten uns per over, a daunting task.

The Kings XI, however carried on undaunted, as Marsh and Sarwan posted the 50 stand for third wicket in 7.3 overs. Marsh himself posted his fifth individual 50 in T20 cricket. But the Super Kings struck again in the 13th over when another local hero L Balaji, the talented medium pacer coming back to cricket after three years since 2005, when he made his debut, struck dismissing Sarwan for 20 off 22 balls with two fours. He struck again to dismiss Sarwan and Marsh added 66 runs for the third wicket off 46 balls and seemed to guiding the Kings XI towards victory.

Balaji, however, got rid of Shaun Marsh for 58 off 38 balls with four sixes and three fours. The Kings XI were 96 for four in 12.5 overs. Disaster struck the Punjab team again, as off the first ball of the 14th over, another Tamil Nadu medium pacer P Amarnath dismissed Kings XI captain southpaw Yuvraj Singh for two when the batsman slashed to point, where Flemming gobbled up the catch.

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