The Australian’s impressive knock of 96 from 53 balls helped the hosts chase down Hyderabad’s first innings score of 175/3 with a ball to spare.
MS Dhoni won the toss and elected to bowl and though they claimed the scalp of Jonny Bairstow early who went for a duck off two deliveries, David Warner and Manish Pandey put up 115 runs for the second wicket.
Warner scored his sixth consecutive fifty against CSK before he was stumped swinging at Harbhajan Singh’s delivery for 57 from 45 balls. Pandey remained unbeaten on 83 off 49 deliveries to guide SRH to 175 with Vijay Shankar (26) chipping in as well.
Watson also lost his opening partner early when Faf du Plessis was run out by Deepak Hooda at the non-striker’s end in the third over. Following a similar pattern to Sunrisers’ innings, Watson found support in Suresh Raina (38) as the pair accelerated the innings before Ambati Rayudu (21) helped take Chennai within sight of the finish line.
His dismissal in the final over made for a tense end to the game but Kedar Jadhav (11*) was able to complete the chase.
The victory lifts CSK to the top of the standings with 16 points from 11 matches while SRH remain fourth with 10 points and a game in hand.
Following a successful campaign in the Pakistan Super League earlier this year, much was expected of Watson in this season’s IPL. Until the encounter against the Sunrisers though, he had flattered to deceive.
His excellent innings of 96 was his first above 50 this season in 11 outings, and only the third time he surpassed the 30-run mark. Sometimes you need a slice of luck to return to form and Bairstow obliged when he dropped Watson while batting on 33.
The Australian grew in confidence and ended up smashing six sixes and nine boundaries at a strike rate of 181.13. He really began to strut his stuff in the 15th over. He opened the face of his bat to guide Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s yorker for four with third man inside the circle. The next delivery was cut late to beat the keeper and ran away to the boundary again.
Having endured a few glares from Rashid Khan, Watson seemed to make it a point to go after the spinner. By the end, Watson had hit three boundaries and two sixes as the normally economical Afghanistan bowler went for 11 an over.
WARNER THE MACHINE
This edition of the IPL have made two things abundantly clear – cricket grounds are way too small for Andre Russell, and David Warner always delivers.
Well, maybe not ‘always’, but surely the two innings out of 10 the Australian failed to score 50 runs or more in can be overlooked.
After a year away from competitive cricket owing to his ball-tampering suspension, few would’ve expected Warner to return in such scintillating form but the Orange Cap – worn by the highest run-scorer in the tournament – has barely left his head.
The opener has notched up seven fifties and one unbeaten ton so far this season and though his knock of 57 against CSK was far from his most impressive, it spoke volumes of his reliability to put runs on the board.
Chennai’s bowling attack gives little away, especially at home, so Warner had to work for his runs. He hit three boundaries and two sixes during his innings, underwhelming by his standards. However, he managed to maintain a healthy strike rate of 126.67 and that was achieved by an aversion to dot balls and hard running between the wickets.
Even when not at his best, Warner found a way to maintain his remarkable consistency, scoring his fifth consecutive 50-plus score, no one has managed more in IPL history.
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