It felt like a match from the past decade as veterans Chris Gayle and MS Dhoni ended as the highest run scorers for their sides in match that saw Kings XI Punjab (197-7) just managing to beat Chennai Super Kings (193-5) by 4 runs.
At the end of the 17th over, CSK required 55 runs to win from the last three overs with a required run rate of 18.33. It looked a daunting (read impossible) task, more so with the likes of a stiff MS Dhoni and a scratchy Jadeja on the crease. However, the next two overs went for 18 runs which brought the equation down to 17 runs of the last over to be bowled by Mohit Sharma.
After winning the toss, CSK decided to bowl first. KXIP tinkered with their playing XI a bit, courtesy of which veteran T20 batsman Chris Gayle got his first game in IPL 2018 in place of Aussie all-rounder Marcus Stoinis. The new opening pair of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul (37) took the field in some style. The duo got Punjab off to a blistering start with them going all out against the opposition bowling at both ends.
When KL Rahul holed out to DJ Bravo off Harbhajan Singh (4-41-1) on the last ball of the 8th over, KXIP were 96-1 and were motoring along at a run rate of 12 runs per over. On the other end, Gayle (MoM) was back at his vintage best as he carved 7 fours and 4 sixes en route his 63-run explosive knock.
The next to come in were Mayank Agarwal (30, SR: 157.89) and Yuvraj Singh (20, SR: 153.84) who did not let the run rate go down, perishing in the process. Karun Nair (29) and Ravi Ashwin (14) closed the innings for Punjab, taking them to 197 for 7.
All CSK bowlers went for plenty with Shardul Thakur (3-33-2) and Imran Tahir (4-34-2) bagging two wickets each.
Chennai got off to a lukewarm start with openers Shane Watson (11, 9b) and Murali Vijay (12, 10b) – playing his first match of IPL 2018 after returning from injury – not only getting out early but also scoring at not much more than run-a-ball.
It was Ambati Rayudu who brought the chase on wheels with a 49-run knock and a 57-run crucial partnership with skipper MS Dhoni. Rayudu was run out by Ashwin (4-32-1) fielding at mid-off through a direct hit which was a turning point in the match.
Next in, Ravi Jadeja (19, 13b) though hit a couple of boundaries but consumed a lot of dot balls to contribute to the rising required rate.
It was around the 18th over that skipper MSD, who was struggling with a back spasm, shifted gears big time to infuse life into the otherwise one-sided seeming match. With 17 required off the last over and Dhoni on strike, the match could have gone anywhere.
That was quite a show by MS Dhoni. Love watching his interviews, loved when he mentioned God has given him enough power he doesn't need to use his back to hit sixes(referring to injury). Kings 11 will be delighted with this win #KXIPvCSK— Mohammad Kaif (@MohammadKaif) April 15, 2018
However, Mohit Sharma (4-47-1) bowled a classic final over with a couple of perfect wide-line yorkers to keep the victory at bay for CSK despite a last-ball six from Dhoni. MSD ended up with 79 runs off 44 deliveries with 6 fours and 5 sixes at a strike rate of 179.54.
In the bowling department, Mujeeb Ur Rahaman (3-18-0) and Andrew Tye (4-47-2) stood out for KXIP. Mujeeb did not get a wicket but was very economical in his 3 overs. Whereas Tye went for some runs but clinched two crucial wickets of Murali Vijay and Ravi Jadeja.
© Cricket World 2018