Skipper Yuvraj spins Kings XI to crucial victory

JOHANESBURG: Yuvraj Singh grabbed a hat-trick to bowl Kings XI Punjab to a vital one-run victory over Deccan Chargers in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here on Sunday.

The left-arm spinner finished with 3-13 off four overs as Punjab restricted Deccan to 133-8 in a thrilling last-over finish after posting 134-7 to keep alive their hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals. Deccan needed 11 to win off the last over, but left-arm seamer Irfan Pathan conceded only nine to build on man-of-the-match Yuvraj's effort. Pathan also claimed two wickets, including that of Rohit Sharma.

Sharma sustained Deccan's hopes with a quickfire 42 before being bowled. He smashed three sixes and as many fours in his 26-ball knock. There was no hint of collapse after Deccan reached 73-2 chasing a modest target, but Yuvraj dismissed Herschelle Gibbs (26), Andrew Symonds (25) and Venugopal Rao off successive balls.

Delhi currently lead the eight-team competition with 16 points from 11 matches, followed by Chennai (15/12)), Deccan (14/13), Punjab (14/13), Rajasthan (13/12), Bangalore (12/12), Mumbai (11/13) and Kolkata (3/12). The top four sides advance to the semi-finals.

India paceman Rudra Pratap Singh earlier played a key role in restricting Punjab, finishing with 3-26 off four overs to become the tournament's leading wicket-taker with 19 in 13 matches. Singh also got the prize wicket of Sri Lankan Kumar Sangakkara (56) just when the batsman looked like boosting the innings in the closing overs.

On Saturday, Deccan recorded a thrilling six-wicket win over struggling Kolkata Knight Riders. Kolkata made 160-5 and Deccan reached 166-4 off the last ball of their 20 overs, handing bottom team Kolkata their 10th loss of the tournament. Deccan captain Adam Gilchrist (43) and Herschelle Gibbs (28) combined in a 68-run opening partnership.

Australian all-rounder Andrew Symonds added a cameo 18 off 13 balls, and Rohit Sharma, who hit an unbeaten 32 from 13 balls and smashed Mortaza for six off the last ball to win the game, guided them home.

Earlier, Kolkata opening batsman Sourav Ganguly had shared 55 runs with Brad Hodge for the second wicket. Ganguly made 33 off 41 balls before being removed by Ishant Sharma in the 15th over and Hodge was dismissed three overs later after contributing 48 from 41 deliveries. Following their departures, David Hussey smashed 43 runs off only 17 balls with two fours and four sixes. Ryan Harris led the Deccan attack, bagging the scalps of McCullum and Hodge for figures of 2-20.