A first over maiden by Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a run out [that of Faf du Plessis] in the third, conceding only 16 runs in the first four overs — Sunrisers Hyderabad clearly had a plan to stop Chennai Super Kings at the M.A Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.
Filled with experienced characters, Chennai is known for turning things around. Today, it was Shane Watson’s day. The hero of IPL 2018 final struck form at the right time to guide his side to a six-wicket victory against Sunrisers.
Chennai dominated from the fifth over and in a flash, the required rate went below seven. That’s exactly how M.S. Dhoni’s boys compete.
Chasing 176, Watson (96 off 53 balls; 4x9, 6x6) took on Khaleel Ahmed to start the run riot. The six over the square-leg boundary off the cutter and the four over extra cover off a length ball turned the clock backwards.
Suresh Raina (38 off 24; 4x6, 6x1) carried the onslaught and hit 22 runs — four fours and a six — off Sandeep Sharma’s first over.
Sharma conceded 19 in his second over, which made it easier for Chennai towards the end.
Watson was dropped on 33 by Bairstow off Sharma. The Aussie ended up stitching two 50+ partnerships — 77 for the second-wicket with Raina and 80 for the third wicket with Rayudu to remain in the game.
Leg-spinner Rashid Khan got Raina stumped in the 10th over. Rayudu and Watson's wickets towards the end came as consolation to Sunrisers.
Sent in to bat, Sunrisers lost Jonny Bairstow (0) upfront but David Warner (57 off 45; 4x3, 6x2) and Manish Pandey (83* off 49; 4x7, 6x3) set the ball rolling with a 115-run stand for the second wicket in 72 balls.
Dhoni and Co. had done their homework for Bairstow. Knowing his vulnerability against spin, off-spinner Harbhajan Singh — introduced in the second over — took two deliveries to dismiss the in-form Englishman to end his grand season (445 runs) on a quiet note.
The first ball that Bairstow faced had a vicious flight nipping back into his pads. The wicket-taking delivery was a quicker one that forced the right-hander to play the wrong line, thus gifting an edge to Dhoni behind the stumps.
In IPL 2019, Sunrisers’ middle-order had been sluggish as Pandey struggled for form. But he looked unchained tonight. He didn’t limp for runs at all. The first ball he faced (off Harbhajan) was smacked down the ground for a boundary.
Harbhajan conceded 15 runs in his second over as Warner and Pandey sent him on a leather hunt with two massive sixes. The one off the southpaw flew straight down the ground, while Pandey milked him over long-off.
Consistent paceman Deepak Chahar soon received the same treatment from the Sunrisers batters. The duo plundered 13 runs in the next over comprising two boundaries and a three. The four that came off Warner’s blade was a tennis forehand-like shot off a good length delivery wide of off. Pandey cashed in on the full length to send it down the ground; Chahar was quick to get out of way.
Sunrisers reached its first 50 in 5.4 overs. Pandey reached his half-century in 25 balls in the 11th over. Warner registered his 43rd IPL fifty — seventh of the season — in the 12th over in 39 balls.
Returning for a second spell, seasoned campaigner Harbhajan finally dismissed Warner off another flighted delivery that forced the Aussie to lose his crease balance. Dhoni took the bails off in a flash.
Vijay Shankar (26 off 20; 4x2, 6x1) kept supporting Pandey but he had slowed down by then. He was dropped on 79 by Suresh Raina off Chahar but the damage had been done by then.
Harbhajan claimed two wickets, while Chahar returned with one. Chennai’s star spinner for the season, Imran Tahir, conceded 38 runs without picking a wicket.