Dhoni dazzles but KXIP scrapes through for narrow win

Gayle takes centrestage in his first match of season with a 33-ball 63; Mujeeb checks Super Kings’ march.

Chris Gayle was in his elements on Sunday night.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

M. S. Dhoni’s awe-inspiring, unbeaten 44-ball 79, went in vain as Kings XI Punjab scraped to a narrow four-run win over Chennai Super Kings in Mohali on Sunday.

Chasing a mammoth 198 for its third straight victory, CSK skipper Dhoni produced a now-customary late charge. But KXIP was not to be denied this evening before a vociferous home crowd.

With three overs to spare and the asking rate hovering around 18, Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja added 50 off just 27 balls before Jadeja fell to Andrew Tye. The equation at the time read 35 off 11.

Undeterred, Dhoni continued his charge - 6, 6, 2, 6 - bringing the target down to 17 off the last over.  However, Mohit Sharma held his nerve even as Dhoni slammed the last ball for a straight six, thus reducing the margin of defeat.

HOW THEY FARED

THE TOP BUY: CSK captain M.S. Dhoni, retained for Rs. 15 Crore, starred with the bat. He made 79 off 44 deliveries.

THE ROOKIE: KXIP off-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, 17, impressed with the ball, returning figures of 3-0-18-0.

Earlier, KXIP got off to a flier thanks to Man-of-the-Match Chris Gayle’s 33-ball 66. Gayle's opening stand of 96 with K. L. Rahul put the host on course for 200.

After sitting out of two games, Gayle replaced Marcus Stoinis and soon made his presence felt. The marauding Jamaican went from six to 56 by feasting on Harbhajan Singh, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and Imran Tahir. It was between the fourth and the seventh over that Gayle went on a rampage.

While Gayle raced to his half-century off just 22 deliveries, Rahul stood out for his immaculate stroke-making. The Karnataka batsman oozed class - during his knock of 37 - through his seven boundaries before holing out to Dwayne Bravo off Singh's bowling.

Both openers were out in the space of four overs, and with Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch falling off successive deliveries, CSK put the brakes on Punjab's scoring. But a 17-ball cameo by Karun Nair took the host close to 200, which ultimately proved to be a winning total.

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