Kings XI Punjab made Chennai Super Kings really sweat in a spirited chase towards a Duckworth-Lewis revised target of 187, but when it mattered most MS Dhoni’s tactical nous won it for Chennai. Simon Katich had set the tone for Punjab’s bravado, and Yuvraj Singh and Mahela Jayawardene batted superbly in the face of adversity, adding 60 in just 4.3 overs under lights. Then, with 43 left to defend off 24 balls, Dhoni took pace off the ball by calling on Suresh Raina’s part-time offspin. Only 10 runs came off his two overs, which provided to be the final twist of the match.
Chennai’s big total was set up by Matthew Hayden’s belligerent 89, either side of an hour-and-a-half rain delay that reduced the match to 18 overs, and Dhoni’s sparky 56 from 27 balls. Up against the strongest batting line-up in the tournament, Punjab’s bowlers were pummelled into submission for the second match running. Hayden’s sublime effort at one point seemed to be going down the drain before Dhoni turned to Raina.
When the story of Chennai’s 12-run win in this thriller is retold, Hayden will be in the headlines but Dhoni and Raina will deserve a significant body of text. Punjab needed 30 from 12 after a good over from L Balaji only went for nine. Dhoni knew Yuvraj and Jayawardene were swinging freely, but gave Raina a second over. Under immense pressure, he did a fabulous job to win the game for Chennai. Bowling flat through the air and angling the ball into Yuvraj’s leg stump, he only allowed six runs, two of which were leg-byes.
Yuvraj, who until then was ruthless, erred by twice backing away to flat deliveries when he was better off shuffling across and letting them go for wides. Having batted so fluently, benefiting from sloppy catching in the deep, Yuvraj and Jayawardene couldn’t keep the pace in the last over. They managed only 11 of the 24 required.
Punjab’s last four overs were in stark contrast to how Katich attacked early and then the butchery from Yuvraj and Jayawardene between the 10th and 14th overs. Undeterred by a wicket in the first over, Katich batted with superb confidence and rare aggression, not once looking anxious. His nudging and cutting was deft, but nothing matched three consecutive sixes off Manpreet Gony in the fifth over, each pulled off with clinical precision.
Balaji then struck with his first ball to cut Katich off on 50 from 25 balls in the ninth over. Needing 97 from 48 - more than two a ball - Yuvraj and Jayawardene pulled their weight. Yuvraj opened his shoulders, swinging away almost effortlessly across the line, while Jayawardene’s biggest contribution was how he handled Muttiah Muralitharan.
Yuvraj was dropped on 22 by Gony at the long-on boundary, while Jayawardene took Balaji for 15 in his next over, dabbing for a four and pulling for a six. Then he lofted Murali for a six inside-out over extra cover, the best shot of his innings. The 14th over, bowled by Albie Morkel, cost 19 with Yuvraj hitting a 118-metre six. It seemed the duo would pull off a miracle for Punjab with ease, but Raina and Balaji got their act together and swung it Chennai’s way.
It had all looked much easier for Chennai after their innings. Pace has been Punjab’s main bowling weapon, and the bowlers were taken to the cleaners, with Hayden bludgeoning his third and most dismissive half-century of the IPL. Hayden was rude to Punjab’s bowlers from the time Dhoni opted to bat, but his assault after the rain hold-up was stunning, with Sreesanth feeling the brunt of his power.
Hayden and Raina added 75 in nine overs after Chennai lost S Badrinath first ball, uppercutting to third man. Sreesanth, after taking a pasting in his last two overs of Punjab’s miserable loss to Rajasthan, wasn’t allowed to settle. Hayden muscled him for fours by walking across and down the track, and won round one of what would ultimately prove a one-sided contest.
Raina didn’t last long, lofting Piyush Chawla’s first delivery to deep midwicket. At this stage Hayden was 43 from 34 balls. With the advantage clearly Chennai’s way, Hayden turned belligerent. He gave himself room, gave the bowlers a look at the stumps, and ferociously deposited the ball into the stands.
Chawla’s second over cost 16 as Hayden slammed sixes either side of the ground. Then back came Sreesanth, who went for 22 in five balls - the leg-side boundary receiving a peppering. Hayden walked across and hooked, one hand off the bat, for six over fine leg. Then he swung two more sixes with ferocity, both balls landing well over the ropes. Hayden was 89 from 57 balls when he holed out to long-on.
VRV Singh was carted for 24 in runs in six balls - the midwicket rope receiving a peppering - by Dhoni, who followed up with two wristy pick-up shots, which seemed out of the Saeed Anwar textbook. Dhoni needed just 24 balls to raise a hyper fifty, his second outstanding innings of the tournament. The target for Punjab was adjusted upwards by one run.
Dhoni had helped his side with offensive brilliance in the evening, but it was his strategic trump that ultimately took them to top of the table.
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Post InfoThis entry was posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009 and is filed under Cricket.
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