Gaikwad, du Plessis shine as Chennai Super Kings reclaims top spot

IPL 2021: The clinical CSK chased down Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 171 by seven wickets in the IPL clash at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday.

CSK openers put on a century stand to push SRH on the backfoot.   -  BCCI/IPL

Well begun is half done. Sometimes it is more than that.

Chennai Super Kings openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis powered their team to the top of the table with a calculated onslaught.  

The clinical CSK chased down Sunrisers Hyderabad’s 171 by seven wickets in the IPL clash at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi on Wednesday.

Ruturaj, who made a delightful 75 with footwork and timing, and du Plessis (56), raised 129 in 13 overs on a good batting surface to snuff out Sunrisers’ challenge. 

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Ruturaj got to his front foot for the silken drives and when the bowler pitched a little shorter, picked runs off his back foot with cuts and pulls.

Footwork is Ruturaj’s ally. And he forces bowlers to alter length. The natural grace and rhythm in his batting are hard to miss.

With exemplary hand-eye coordination, du Plessis struck the ball past cover and point and then powered the ball through mid-off as Khaleel Ahmed and Siddharth Kaul came in for punishment.

When left-arm spinner J. Suchith came on, he sashayed down for a six over long-on.

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Both opened the field at will. Ruturaj, using the crease beautifully, pulled Rashid Khan nonchalantly.

However, the skilful Rashid did consume Ruturaj with a quickish leg-spinner, had Moeen Ali taken in the deep and trapped du Plessis leg-before with a googly.

It was not enough for SRH. 

Manish Pandey and David Warner

Manish Pandey and David Warner run a quick single.   -  BCCI/IPL


Earlier, it was Kane Williamson, light on his feet and heavy with his strokes, who fired SRH to a combative score with a barrage of shots in the end.

It was a captivating cameo (26 of 10) but he should have come in earlier.

A six over cover point - the stroke encapsulated Williamson’s footwork, still head, balance and timing - off Shardul Thakur was the pick.    

And Kedar Jadhav ended the innings with a last-ball six over square-leg off Sam Curran.

The backbone of the Sunrisers innings, that opted to bat, was the 106-run second-wicket partnership between the left-right combination of a struggling David Warner (57 off 55) and a relatively more enterprising Manish Pandey (61 off 46).

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Warner’s bat speed is his strength. Although a muscular hitter of the ball, the southpaw is not without footwork. Yet this was a night when he could not find momentum save for the odd hefty blow. 

CSK bowled tight and fielded capably.

The swift du Plessis conjured an electric moment when he dived at wide long-off after Pandey heaved Lungi Ngidi.

Then he took the night flight with the willow with Ruturaj.

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