IPL 8: Flawless Chennai thump Kings XI Punjab to seal top spot


May 16, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings 134 for 3 (Du Plessis 55, Raina 41) beat Kings XI Punjab 130 for 7 (Axar 32, Negi 2-25, Ashwin 1-14) by seven wickets

May 16, 2015

Brief Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings 134 for 3 (Du Plessis 55, Raina 41) beat Kings XI Punjab 130 for 7 (Axar 32, Negi 2-25, Ashwin 1-14) by seven wickets

Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina added 92 runs for the third wicket to set up Chennai Super Kings's 7-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab. © BCCI

MOHALI – Before this game, the Chennai Super Kings needed a win to consolidate their position at the top of the table in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2015. A collective effort from the bowlers at the Punjab Cricket Association stadium in Mohali meant they cruised to a seven-wicket win and sealed the top spot, on the way to marching past the league stage for the eighth time in eight IPL seasons.

Having kept Kings XI Punjab to 130 for 7, Chennai polished off the chase in just 16.5 overs.

The match was a battle between the table-toppers and the table laggards, and it showed clearly. Punbaj’s biggest worry this season has been their batting and it flared up again in their last game.

In their last game, a rain-truncated one in which they beat Royal Challengers Bangalore, the move to send Wriddhiman Saha to open with Manan Vohra worked out pretty well. On Saturday (May 16), it looked like things were going to pan out well for the first two overs, but Saha fell to Pawan Negi. Saha misjudged the length and the turn of a ball that should have been hammered to the boundary, and only connected with the bottom of the bat to lob an easy catch to Brendon McCullum at cover.

Things went from bad to worse for Punjab from there. George Bailey started well and collected 11 runs off his first four balls, but then poked at one angling away from Ashish Nehra, only to feather an outside edge to Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Vohra didn’t last long either. Ishwar Pander, who had bowled too full or too short in his first two overs, bowled a full and wide one at Vohra, who went after it tempted by the width, but scooped an easy catch to Ashish Nehra at third man.

With the scorecard reading 35 for 3, the onus was on Punjab’s shaky middle order to guide them through to a fighting total. Gurkeerat Singh Mann (15) and Glenn Maxwell (6) however, couldn’t pick up the pace. Three balls from Ravindra Jadeja to Maxwell painted the whole picture of the Punjab’s allrounder’s run with the bat this season.

Off the first ball of the tenth over, Maxwell went for a reverse sweep only to mistime it to the offside. He went for the same shot again next ball, but failed to connect. Having tried and failed, Maxwell gave up the idea of reverse-sweeping and tried playing a traditional push to long-on. The third ball, pitched on middle, did just enough to beat the bat and crash into the stumps.

Punjab had everything to gain and nothing to lose in this game, but things deflated pretty quickly. David Miller (11), who has been the only silver lining this season with the bat, was undone by a moment of brilliance on the field by Jadeja. He swept a full one from Negi but Jadeja dived to his left at midwicket to hold onto the catch.

A 44-run stand between Axar Patel (32) and Rishi Dhawan (25 not out) did lift Punjab to a competitive score, but that wasn’t enough to challenge Chennai.

The below-par total gave Michael Hussey a perfect opportunity to get into his groove. With McCullum set to leave for England to do duty for New Zealand soon, Hussey will likely play a key role for Chennai in the remainder of the tournament. However, Hussey looked understandably rusty, and after starting with a thick outside edge to get off the mark, he poked at a ball swinging away and got a thin outside edge to Saha. Four balls and eight runs later, McCullum chopped back a short ball from Beuran Hendricks on to his stumps.

Chennai had sent Faf du Plessis up to No.3, with the intention of giving him time in the middle before the play-offs, but he was soon joined by Suresh Raina, the regular No.3, with Chennai in some bother at 10 for 2. However, if there were any jitters in the dug out after losing the openers early, it settled down soon with the duo adding 92 runs for the third wicket.

A chance did come Punjab’s way when Raina presented an easy catch to Maxwell in the seventh over, but the bowler went with one hand and made a mess of what should have been a regulation take.

Du Plessis, who reached a half-century off 36 balls, was eventually dismissed by a yorker from Dhawan in the 14th over but the wicket came a little too late as Chennai needed just 29 runs at that stage. Du Plessis had made 55 off 41. Raina remained unbeaten on a controlled 34-ball 41 and was there to guide the side home at the end.

While Punjab were sloppy in all departments, Chennai showed no signs of complacency even after having secured a play-off berth, and kept pressure on the opposition with the ball, in the field and with the bat. It was the mark of a consistent side, and an attitude that has ensured Chennai will have two shots at making the final of this edition of the IPL.

Courtesy: Wisden India