Hyderabad fall to fourth place in the IPL standings, while Kings XI leapfrogged their visitors in Mohali to go into third place after their six-wicket win.
Having won the toss, Punjab opted to bowl first and made the most out of the dewy conditions. The Sunrisers struggled to get going and barely hit a boundary during the powerplay.
Jonny Bairstow faced six deliveries before being dismissed for one run while David Warner was forced to curb his natural attacking instincts and bat through the innings for his unbeaten 70 from 62 balls.
He was supported in the middle by Vijay Shankar (26 from 27) but it was Deepak Hooda who struck two boundaries and a six from his three deliveries at the death that carried them to a respectable total of 150-4.
Kings XI went about chasing down that target with minimum fuss though and Rahul was the one who saw them through with his unbeaten 71 from 53 balls. Mayank Agarwal also chipped in with 55 off 43 but his dismissal in the 18th over created a little wobble for the hosts.
At 132-2 then, the next eight runs took 17 balls and two wickets. After cruising for most of the innings Punjab required 11 off the final over but between Sam Curran and Rahul, they managed it with a ball to spare.
WARNER’S SLOW BURNER
This was not a vintage Warner innings and, depending on how you perceive it, one that either cost his side the game or gave them a fighting chance. The batsman has a reputation as one of the most explosive hitters in the IPL but was very well contained on this occasion.
It wasn’t the easiest track to bat on as Bairstow and Warner – the undisputed dominant opening pair this season – both struggled, as did Shankar who soon replaced the departed wicketkeeper-batsman.
“The ball was moving around a bit initially, so we wanted to see off the first six overs,” the all-rounder said after the first innings.
Of course, Punjab must get credit for their approach against Warner. Ankit Rajpoot, despite failing to pick up a wicket, was incredibly disciplined with his line and length. The field placement was spot on as well, packing the offside to guard against Warner’s strength through the covers. He managed to score just nine from the first 17 balls he faced.
In fairness, the Australian applied himself and worked hard for his runs. Warner’s one of the quickest between the wickets and it showed during this knock. He consistently pushed for quick singles and doubles to keep the scoreboard ticking over. However, the Sunrisers’ slowest start this season was difficult to recover from.
Even though Warner accelerated later in the innings, finishing with a strike rate of 112.90, and Hyderabad put up over 100 runs in the last 10 overs, their score of 150-4 always felt like it was just short of a winning target.
Apart from setting a good field against Sunrisers’ opening pair, Ravichandran Ashwin was also clever with the way he utilised his bowling attack. He brought on Mujeeb as early as the second over as he targeted Bairstow, who’s struggled against spinners this season. In fact, all six of the Englishman’s dismissals this term have been to wrist-spinners and mystery-spinners.
Meanwhile, Warner was offered no room outside the off stump and the pacers bowled short of a length deliveries to him so he couldn’t easily hit lofted shots over the inner circle. With a weak leg-side field, they almost exclusively bowled an off-stump or outside off-stump line, moving across the batsman without offering him too much room to extend his arms.
KL COOL AS EVER
There were no fireworks off Rahul’s bat. He didn’t dispatch the bowling attack to all parts of the ground, making a mockery of Sunrisers’ struggles at the crease. Instead, he paced his innings exceptionally well.
If the Indian selectors were watching, then this is exactly the kind of performance they would like to see from their openers at this summer’s World Cup in England.
He simply played good cricketing shots with little risk involved. With timing, technique and placement, he was able to anchor the innings while scoring at a rate just quick enough to turn defeat into attack – succeeding where Warner failed.
Sunrisers Hyderabad captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar praised his bowlers for putting on a solid effort despite the dew factor in their narrow defeat to Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League. He felt that his team was about 20 runs short of a good total.
“The way we bowled I am pretty happy given the dew. Still there are areas in our bowling we can improve. We were 20 runs short but what we all did believe in ourselves,” he said.
Man of the match KL Rahul confessed that he did struggle to have his way with the bat in the first couple of games but has now found his rhythm.
“Didn’t start off the way I wanted in the first couple of games. All the fifties have come in chasing and I am enjoying my batting. I’ve been playing with Chris (Gayle) for a long time and have been playing with Mayank (Agarwal) since my childhood.
“The way Mayank came out, the way he was striking gave me a little bit of time. He hurt his finger, he was in pain, to play that sort of innings was incredible. I did tell (Sam) Curran that hitting sixes was difficult, so look to hit the pockets. He tried to hit sixes but luckily for us, it went in the gaps,” he said.
Winning captain Ravichandran Ashwin was happy with the win but he pointed out that there is still room for improvement. The spinner is looking to extend their winning streak at home, which is currently at seven.
“Too close for comfort, to be brutally honest. The biggest positive for me is there is scope for improvement and there is enough capability in the dressing room to do that. I think we bowled extremely well to (David) Warner, Ankit (Rajpoot) was splendid, Sam was brilliant.
“I would love it (seven-match winning streak at home) be 11 in a row. It’s very important on this ground to bowl spinners with the new ball and Mujeeb (Ur Rahman) has always done it for Afghanistan,” Ashwin explained.
Agarwal scored a half century and put on a 114-run stand with Rahul to help Punjab chase down the target of 151. The 28-year-old admitted that things got tricky in the end, but Rahul showed enough composure to see the game through.
“With 19 off 19, somebody had to take a chance. Definitely some nerves. One over 11 needed and Nabi bowling but we backed ourselves. We enjoy batting together. I am glad he was there till the end and could finish game off,” Agarwal admitted.
A mouth-watering clash is in store for the fans in the Indian Premier League as Kolkata Knight Riders travel to Chennai for what promises to be a thrilling encounter.
Both teams have lost just one of their five games and have hence collected eight points so far this season.
Chennai Super Kings enter this fixture after making light work of Kings XI Punjab, while the Knight Riders eased to a win over Rajasthan Royals away from home on Sunday.
We take a look at the talking points ahead of the big game.
The same fixture last season was one of the best games in the history of the tournament. Windies star Andre Russell powered Kolkata to a total of 202 runs, smashing 11 sixes across the MA Chidambaram stadium enroute to his 35-ball 88. International team-mate Dwayne Bravo was victim to most of the fireworks, going for 50 runs in his three overs.
However, the hosts managed to complete a spectacular comeback to treat the neutrals to a classic. Shane Watson and Ambati Rayadu provided Chennai a strong opening, but it took a miracle from Sam Billings – who scored 56 runs of 23 balls – to hand them a famous win. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men scored 50 runs in the last 19 balls to achieve the target.
Given how both the teams are in really good form going into this match, can expect yet another classic? But the bowlers could be the ones to decide the fixture on Tuesday …
A battle of spinners
The Chennai pitch is building a reputation for being a slow, spinner-friendly pitch. Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowled out for just 70 runs on this pitch and Punjab managed to muster only 138. Chennai have won all three of their games here and the average of the runs scored by their opponents is just 125.
Both teams are well-equipped with quality spinners and this game could probably be decided by one of them. Harbhajan Singh – one of Chennai’s best players this season – will be leading the spin attack which also includes the likes of Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja. Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav and Piyush Chawla – who recently tamed Jos Buttler on a slow Jaipur track – will be key for Kolkata. It will eventually come down to which batting line-up will react better to the spin-attack.
CSK’s death-over woes and Andre Russell
Chennai’s only defeat this season came against Mumbai Indians. Chennai’s woeful bowling in the death overs was one massive take-away from that game. Mumbai managed to score 170 runs after they were left reeling at just 112/4 after 16.4 overs. Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard absolutely dismantled a Bravo-led Chennai bowling attack, scoring 58 runs in the last 20 balls.
The hosts will have to be wary of a certain Russell, who has asserted himself on almost every bowling attack he has faced this season. The Windies international can be brutal at the death, as demonstrated against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Punjab and Bangalore.
His aggregate score in these three games reads 145 runs from just 49 balls. Russell is clearly in the form of his life and if he is allowed the freedom to express himself, he could cause havoc and emerge as the top performer yet again.
Chennai Super Kings: Faf Du Plessis filled in for an injured Dwayne Bravo against Punjab and he impressed by scoring 54 runs from 38 balls. It could be a coin toss between him and Bravo, depending on the latter’s fitness.
Kolkata Knight Riders: There are no injuries. Kolkata are expected to field an unchanged 11 from their impressive victory over Rajasthan.