However, while the bottom-placed hosts have little more than pride to play for, there is a playoffs advantage CSK stand to lose in the worst case scenario.
Chennai top the 2019 Indian Premier League standings heading into Sunday’s fixtures but a hefty defeat to Punjab, as unlikely as that may be, coupled by a victory for Mumbai Indians over Kolkata Knight Riders could see them drop out of the top two spots.
Should that transpire, the defending champions would have to play an extra match in order to make the finals – the Eliminator against the fourth-placed team before taking on the loser from the first Qualifier for a spot in the showpiece event. MS Dhoni and Co will strive to prevent that.
After their most recent defeat to Mumbai, CSK responded with an emphatic 80-run win over Delhi Capitals with the veterans leading the way. Suresh Raina (59) and Dhoni (44*) helped post a first-innings score of 179/4 before Imran Tahir took 4-12 and Ravindra Jadeja 3-9 restricted the opposition to just 99.
Meanwhile, Punjab will want to end their season on a high and avoid finishing it in last place. After Royal Challengers Bangalore’s four wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Saturday, they leapfrogged Kings XI who languish at the foot of the table with just 10 points from 13 games.
Much will depend on the skipper Ravi Ashwin and veteran Mohammed Shami with the ball as Punjab’s bowling, particularly during powerplays, has been a concern.
They needed to win their last game against KKR in order to make the playoffs but despite posting 183/6 in the first innings, they let themselves down in the field and Kolkata, led by opener Shubman Gill’s unbeaten 65 off 46, were able to chase down the target with seven wickets and two overs to spare.
KXIP: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Nicolas Pooran, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravi Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Arshdeep Singh
CSK: Faf du Plessis, Shane Watson, Suresh Raina, Kedar Jhadav, Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir.
Shimron Hetmyer returned to the Royal Challengers Bangalore line-up for the first time in a month and made it count as his fifty secured a four-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their final league game of IPL 2019.
Sunrisers posted 175-7 thanks to a captain’s knock of 70 from Kane Williamson. RCB were rocked early, reduced to 20-3 before Hetmyer (75) and Gurkeerat Singh (65) added 144 runs to take the hosts close to victory on Saturday.
Hyderabad ended the league phase on 12 points and will now have to hope Kolkata Knight Riders – also on 12 points but with an inferior net run rate – lose their final game against Mumbai Indians on Sunday to secure playoff qualification.
Sundar reins Hyderabad in
Sunrisers made a decent start with openers Wriddhiman Saha and Martin Guptill added 46 inside five overs. But the introduction of spinner Washington Sundar put a brake on the scoring.
The offie removed opener Guptill before having in-form Manish Pandey caught acrobatically by Hetmyer. Sundar also accounted for the dangerous Vijay Shankar, capping a superb day with the ball as he finished with 3-24 from his three fours.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal had a brilliant day as well, giving away just 24 runs from his four overs.
Kane the leader
Captain Kane Williamson was left with it all to do. He hardly got any support from the rest of the line-up, with the exception of Shankar, and it was because of his 43-ball 70 that Sunrisers managed a respectable total of 175-7.
The Kiwi kept the madness for the final over – bowled by Umesh Yadav – to really twist the knife into RCB. The first four balls were deposited for two fours and as many sixes. More pain was in store as umpire Nigel Llong mistakenly called the fifth ball a no-ball. The extra ball was hit for a four as 28 runs came from the final over.
Bhuvi swings it before Hetmyer blitz
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the master of extracting every bit of movement out of a pitch. He was on top of his game on Saturday, getting Parthiv Patel’s leading edge to point and then snaring AB de Villiers with an away swinger to slip. Captain Virat Kohli fell to left-arm quick Khaleel Ahmed at the other end as RCB were staring down the barrel at 20-3.
Caribbean southpaw Hetmyer came into the tournament as the one of the more expensive buys at half a million dollars. But he had to be benched after a disastrous start. More than one month after playing his previous game, Hetmyer got a look in again and he seemed a different player without the pressure of expectations or playoff qualification.
While he wasn’t the smoothest batsman out there, Hetmyer showed glimpses of why Bangalore had invested in him. The left-handed dasher added 144 runs for the fourth wicket with Gurkeerat which took Bangalore to the brink of victory.
Hetmyer’s innings should have ended soon after he had reached fifty, with Yusuf Pathan dropping a dolly at point.
Bangalore slipped at the end but recovered thanks to pacer Umesh who made up for his horror bowling effort by hitting two fours in the final over to seal the win.
A fine half-century from Rishabh Pant complimented Delhi Capitals‘ excellent bowling display as they moved into second place in the 2019 Indian Premier League standings after beating Rajasthan Royals by five wickets on Saturday.
The Royals won the toss and elected to bat at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium but a fine opening spell from Ishant Sharma put them on the back foot as they were only able to post 115/9 in their 20 overs. The seamer ran through the top order, dismissing Ajinkya Rahane, Liam Livingstone and Mahipal Lomror to finish with figures of 3-38.
With the in-form Sanju Samson runout by Prithvi Shaw after a mix-up with Lomror, only 17-year-old Riyan Parag managed to put up a fight for the visitors as wickets continued to fall around him. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra was responsible for the middle order collapse as his superb spell of 3-17 took care of Shreyas Gopal and Stuart Binny in successive balls but should’ve also been credited with a hat-trick.
He tossed up a wrong ‘un to Krishnappa Gowtham who top edged a slog sweep but Trent Boult dropped the catch which would’ve handed Mishra his third hat-trick in IPL history. He did eventually dismiss the Royals all-rounder in his next over with Ishant taking the catch at long off.
Parag offered some resistance and anchored the innings before accelerating towards the end, hitting Ishant’s final over for 18 runs. With two sixes and four boundaries, young all-rounder reached 50 off 49 deliveries – becoming the youngest player in IPL history to score a half-century – but fell in the final over to Boult.
With Delhi requiring less than a run a ball, Rahane introduced spin early and Ish Sodhi dismissed both openers Shaw and Shikhar Dhawan with the first two balls of the fourth over.
Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer continued to score at a good pace but the latter was dismissed by Gopal on 15. With support from Colin Ingram (12) and Sherfane Rutherford (11), Pant was able to help the hosts reach their target with 23 balls to spare.
The wicketkeeper-batsman struck five sixes on his way to an unbeaten 53 off 38 balls to secure victory and eliminate Rajasthan in the process.
Delhi are now in second spot on 18 points with a positive net run of .044. If Mumbai win their final game against Kolkata on Sunday and if Chennai maintain their positive net run rate, Delhi will slip to third position and will be forced to play the Eliminator instead of the Qualifier, which offers teams two shots at making it to the final.