Chennai’s spinners, especially Harbhajan Singh, were the stars of the show as excellent half-centuries by KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan went in vain for Punjab.
Faf du Plessis’ half-century had earlier helped the hosts post a challenging 160-3 on a slow deck at Chennai before Kings XI were restricted to 138-5 in their 20 overs. The win was Chennai’s fourth of the tournament from five games with the defending champions looking like the team to beat once again.
ASHWIN’S HAPPY HOMECOMING
Former Chennai stalwart Ravi Ashwin admitted to being emotional on his return to his old stomping ground but the Kings XI skipper barely showed any of it on the pitch with an excellent display.
The wily off-spinner might have erred by not picking Mujeeb ur Rahman in the playing XI on a spin-friendly track but he more than did his own part with the ball. Ashwin gave the visitors the crucial breakthrough after Chennai openers Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson had put on a 56-run stand by getting the better of the latter.
He saved his best for his final over where he dismissed the well set Du Plessis and Suresh Raina off consecutive deliveries to bring Kings XI roaring back into the game. With those dismissals, Ashwin has now become the most prolific bowler at the Chepauk stadium in IPL history.
CHENNAI START WELL AND FINISH WELL WITH BAT
MS Dhoni’s decision to bat first after winning the toss was vindicated by Watson and Faf who added 54 runs in the powerplay overs. The South African batsman was the more impressive of the pair with Du Plessis making the most of his maiden outing in the 2019 campaign.
The right-hander struck four sixes on his way to a 38-ball 54 before his innings was brought to an end by Ashwin. Chennai’s strong start with the bat was in danger of going to waste with Ashwin dragging Kings XI back into the match but skipper Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu provided them the much-needed late flourish with a flurry of boundaries.
In all, 44 runs came off the final 18 deliveries for the hosts with Dhoni continuing his excellent form with another powerful finish which saw the veteran smash a 23-ball 37.
CHENNAI SPINNERS CHOKE PUNJAB DESPITE RAHUL, SARFRAZ FIFTIES
Punjab’s chase of 161 began on a disastrous note with veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh dismissing Chris Gayle and Mayank Agarwal in a double-wicket maiden over. However, the visitors regrouped well through KL Rahul and Sarfaraz Khan.
Both Rahul and Sarfaraz struck half-centuries as they stitched together a 110-run stand which would have been a match-winning one on any other day. While Chennai were deprived of wickets for long stretches of the innings, their spinners did well on a slow surface to restrict Punjab’s scoring rate to manageable levels.
Harbhajan finished with excellent figures of 2-14 while Ravindra Jadeja went for only 24 runs in his four overs. Imran Tahir was unlucky to go wicket-less but the leg-spinner conceded only 20 runs from his quota. By the time the three spinners had bowled out in the 17th over, the equation for Punjab was 46 off 18.
Despite having eight wickets in hand at the stage, that proved too huge a mountain to climb for the visitors with the spin-contingent’s 12 overs proving to be the deciding factor.
Chennai Super Kings: 160-3
Faf du Plessis: 54 (38)
Ravi Ashwin: 3-23
Kings XI Punjab: 138-5
Sarfaraz Khan: 67 (55)
KL Rahul: 55 (47)
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Virat Kohli – RCB (11 credits)
Has Virat Kohli ever been this fired up? His RCB side have endured a horror start to the season, losing each of their five matches so far. The skipper hasn’t been at his best either but after a good knock in the second game against Mumbai Indians, he went big with 84 from 49 balls in their most recent defeat to Kolkata Knight Riders. He’ll be determined to try and lead RCB out of their losing streak again.
Yuzvendra Chahal – RCB (9 credits)
Easily the pick of the RCB bowlers. In fact, Yuzvendra Chahal is the leading wicket-taker this season with nine to his name and an economy of 6.45. Bizarrely, he’s yet to finish on the winning side. Fortunately, that counts for little in fantasy league terms.
Marcus Stoinis – RCB (8 credits)
All-rounders from both sides have had quiet tournaments so far but Marcus Stoinis has shown some promise, with the bat at least. He followed up a handy 31 not out against Rajasthan Royals with a quick-fire unbeaten 28 against KKR. With the ball in hand, he’s been swatted around a bit in his two outings and is yet to pick up a wicket.
Rishabh Pant – DC (10 credits)
Even though Rishabh Pant has struggled to replicate his form from early on in the season with the bat, he’s always likely to cut loose on any given day. Meanwhile, he’s ticking over nice with the gloves, leading the way for dismissals with nine so far. Quinton de Kock is second with six.
CAPTAIN – Virat Kohli
VICE CAPTAIN – Yuzvendra Chahal.
2016 champions Sunrisers have been in excellent form so far in their campaign and have registered three victories from their four matches.
Mumbai, meanwhile, have lost half of their four matches so far but come into the clash on the back of a morale-boosting win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings.
Will Sunrisers extend their excellent start to five matches or will Mumbai make it back-to-back victories for themselves? Follow the ball-by-ball updates fro Hyderabad below to find out.