Visakhapatnam: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni single-handedly scripted Rising Pune Supergiants’ face-saving four-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab with a last ball six to help them avoid a last-place finish in the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Saturday.
Chasing 173, Pune never looked in contention, but Dhoni played the lone ranger with an unbeaten 32-ball 64 to secure an improbable win for the debutants.
Pune looked down and out at 86 for five in the 14th over before Dhoni brought out his best and smashed five sixes and four boundaries.
Needing 23 runs in the last over, Dhoni struck three sixes and a four. In the last ball of the match, RPS required six for victory and the captain lofted one over the midwicket boundary.
However, for Dhoni, who had successfully led Chennai Super Kings in the previous editions of the tournament, mostly finishing in top four besides winning the title twice, this has been his most disappointing campaign.
Earlier, Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with a four-wicket haul to restrict KXIP to 172 for seven in the allotted 20 overs. Captain Murali Vijay and Gurkeerat Mann hit fine half centuries to take the team to a competitive total.
The loss has pushed KXIP to the bottom of the heap with just eight points from 14 games.
Opting to bat, Vijay led from the front, scoring a 41-ball 59 that included four hits to the fence and three sixes. He also shared a valuable opening partnership of 60 runs with Hashim Amla (30).
Ashwin got the breakthrough for Pune when he dismissed Amla, and in the very next over wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha (3) was also sent back to the dressing room with Adam Zampa doing the damage.
But Vijay and Gurkeerat played with responsibility to steady the boat. The duo put on a 58-run stand for the third wicket before the skipper fell to Ashwin.
Ashwin further tighten the noose by dismissing Gurkeerat and new batsman David Miller in his next over.
None of the lower-order batsmen reached the double figures with Miller concluding a miserable tournament with another failure.
Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers for RPS with figures of four for 34 from four overs.
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 172/7 in 20 overs (Murali Vijay 59, Gurkeerat Singh 51; Ravichandran Ashwin 4/34) lost to Rising Pune Supergiants 173/6 in 20 overs (MS Dhoni 64 n.o).