Chennai: Defending champions Chennai Super Kings came back to winning ways as they beat Kings XI Punjab by 22 runs at Chepauk on Saturday. With the win Chennai continued their unbeaten streak at home, winning three consecutive matches and also regained their position at the top of the table.
Batting first, Chennai scored 160. Faf Du Plessis, came back to the side and he scored a scintillating fifty, opening the innings. Despite KXIP bowlers restricting the scoring in the middle overs, Dhoni and Rayudu accelerated in the end, helping the team score 33 runs in the last two overs to post a challenging total.
Chasing 161, KXIP lost Gayle and Agarwal in quick succession in the second over bowled by Harbhajan Singh. KL Rahul and Sarfraz Khan then stitched together a 110-run partnership but CSK spinners added pressure and kept the required run rate of the opposition under control to win by 22 runs in the end.
Speaking at the post-match presentation after the win, CSK coach Stephen Fleming said, “Going by our batting, it was difficult in the last five overs to get momentum. It took a little bit of Dhoni magic and Rayudu’s to get us to that score. In the second innings, we still believed that if we can create some pressure we would take it deep but the fact that they were two down and more hitting power to come was a little bit of a concern. We got some belief when it was down to 18 balls and with a high run-rate, the overs from Harbhajan, Imran and Kuggeleijn, coming back was the defining moment.”
On playing with five-bowlers which was a forced one because of injury to Dwayne Bravo, he said “The benefit of having five bowlers is there is nowhere to hide. So you got to make an adjustment pretty quick. The way Harbhajan and Tahir bowled created pressure in the last few overs. We are going to work hard. At home, we can get away with the spinners but the bowlers are really trying hard to make sure they contribute. we know we have got some holes and working hard to hide them.”
Du Plessis, playing his first game of the tournament brought up his 10th IPL fifty. Speaking about him, Fleming said “The early he bats the better, the ball was coming early on and he has been in really good form with South Africa so we have been conscious that he hasn’t been playing despite being in good form. Through the injury of Bravo, it was an obvious choice to get him in and his form continued. He manipulated the bowling pretty well. He got some good power and he was able to keep the momentum going. It wasn’t an easy track but the longer the players batted, there were more chances of getting an innings of substance.”
On Dwayne Bravo’s injury, “We got some date in two weeks time to see where he is at. We got a very good physio who is pretty accurate with his assessments. The key thing when you are out for two weeks is maintaining match fitness. So we are to make sure where Bravo has arrived and introduce him at the right time and that’s why developing other players will be important. If we can strike our way through then we won’t be weakened by losing players.”
Kings XI Punjab captain Ravichandran Ashwin said there was nothing wrong about his team combination, defending the decision to play only two spinners “I would love to have four spinners and four fast bowlers. We can only play XI. We have a combination where we have a six-strong batting and five-strong bowling attack,” said Ashwin.
“I thought the bowlers bowled well. Probably, missed the mark a bit in the powerplay, which is understandable. Whoever bowled and got a role to play, I thought we got them under par as well. We were in the chase.”