Chennai Super Kings returned to their familiar surroundings of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, and shook off their defeat to Mumbai Indians with a convincing 22-run victory over Kings XI Punjab in their VIVO IPL 2019 contest on Saturday evening, to go top of the points table with four victories out of five games.Electing to bat upon winning the toss, CSK had somewhat lost their way in the middle overs but recovered through their inspirational captain MS Dhoni to post a par 160-3, before their bowling attack ensured KXIP were restricted to 138-5 in their chase.
The KXIP run chase began in disastrous fashion, as CSK’s ploy to open the bowling with Harbhajan Singh produced immediate results. The spinner accounted for explosive West Indies batsman Chris Gayle and the in-form Mayank Agarwal in the second over of the innings to derail their run chase early. KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan pieced together a 110-run stand for the third wicket thereafter, but the CSK spinners combined for 12 overs which only cost 61 runs, as KXIP were left with too many to score at the end of their innings.
CSK had made three important changes to their side owing to injuries, as Dwayne Bravo was replaced by New Zealand newcomer Scott Kuggeleijn, who made his VIVO IPL debut. Kuggeleijn was a late entrant to the competition as he had replaced Lungi Ngidi in the CSK side, while Faf du Plessis and Harbhajan Singh were also included for the contest. R Ashwin, returning to his former home ground, brought back Gayle and Andrew Tye for the contest, crucially leaving out spinner Mujeebur Rahman.
KXIP were happy to keep the scoreboard ticking, but the additional third spinner in the CSK line-up meant Rahul and Sarfaraz, who had both struck half-centuries, weren’t able to force the occasional boundary in the middle overs, and, as a result, left needing 43 from the last 14 balls. But CSK held their nerve despite missing the services of their death overs specialist in Bravo, and DeeparkChahar overcame initial nerves of sending down to over-the-waist full tosses as his team closed out the contest without further hiccups.
Standout batting performance
Playing his first VIVO IPL 2019 match, Faf du Plessis hit the ground running with the bat for his franchise for whom he played a crucial starring role in their 2018 title-winning campaign. Rayudu’s lack of runs at the top of the order prompted du Plessis to open alongside Shane Watson, and the pair added 56 runs for the opening wicket. Du Plessis was the more aggressive of the two, and the batsman took heavy toll on anything loose offered by Mohammed Shami, Sam Curran, or even KXIP captain Ashwin. His 10th VIVO IPL half-century was pivotal in setting a solid platform for the likes of Dhoni and Rayudu who followed, and were able to close the innings on a high thanks to du Plessis’ excellent 38-ball 54 up front.
Notable Support Act – Batting
CSK captain MS Dhoni has the uncanny ability to see his side home from the toughest of situations, and Saturday afternoon was another example of the master at work. Dhoni had arrived when R Ashwin and Murugan Ashwin had strangled the batsmen, and after absorbing a few deliveries to see off the spin threat, Dhoni unleashed another calculated assault on the KXIP quick bowlers. CSK had just reached the 100-run mark in the 14th over when Dhoni came to the crease, and he helped the team to 60 runs in the next six overs. Except for CSK’s defeat to Mumbai Indians, each of CSK’s four games has seen Dhoni stay unbeaten at the end of their innings, all of them resulting in victories.
Standout bowling performance
Harbhajan Singh was left being a spectator after leading his side to victory in their opening contest against Royal Challengers Bangalore. Back in the side in friendly conditions, the veteran off-spinner got to work immediately, removing Gayle and Mayank Agarwal in the space off three deliveries in his opening over, the second of the KXIP run chase. Harbhajan’s variations kept the KXIP batsmen guessing at all times, and the bowler finished with excellent figures 2-17 from his four overs.
R Ashwin led the KXIP bowling performance from the front, essaying a similar role that Harbhajan did for CSK. Ashwin accounted for all three wickets that fell in the CSK innings, luring Watson, du Plessis and Suresh Raina all into expansive shots which cost them their wickets, as the wily spinner finished with 3-23 from his four overs.
Notable Support Act – Bowling
While Imran Tahir and RavindraJadeja played a crucial role in restricting the KXIP batsmen, VIVO IPL debutant Scott Kuggeleijn impressed with high pace and death overs accuracy. The young New Zealand tearaway was welcomed to the competition with a six off his first delivery, by Sarfaraz Khan, and was further taken for runs by Rahul and Sarfaraz, but tasked with bowling the death overs, Kuggeleijn held his nerve to remove both the set batsmen to finish with figures of 2-37.
Chennai Super Kings: 160-3 (Faf du Plessis 54, MS Dhoni 37*, R Ashwin 3-23) beat Kings XI Punjab: 138-5 (Sarfaraz Khan 67, KL Rahul 55, Harbhajan Singh 2-17, Scott Kuggeleijn 2-37) by 22 runs.
Stat of the Match:
Sarfaraz Khan’s 67 off 59 balls was his first ever VIVO IPL half-century.
MS Dhoni became the second CSK player to play 150 games for the franchise after Suresh Raina.
Man of the Match
Harbhajan Singh, for his figures of 2-17 with the ball.