IPL recap: When CSK secured top-two finish despite Punjab defeat

Last year, K. L. Rahul scored 71 as Kings XI Punjab defeated Chennai Super Kings by six wickets at the PCA stadium in Mohali.

Chris Gayle (left) and K. L. Rahul put on 108 runs for the first wicket to lay the foundation for Punjab’s chase.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

If IPL 2020 had commenced as scheduled, Kings XI Punjab would have faced Chennai Super Kings at the PCA Stadium in Mohali on Thursday. Punjab had secured the win in the corresponding fixture in 2019, but despite the six-wicket defeat, Chennai secured a top-two finish.

Chennai entered the match with its eyes firmly on the qualification berth. A win would ensure the M. S. Dhoni-led side a spot in Qualifier 1. However, in a losing scenario, the yellow brigade had to ensure that the second innings lasted a little more than 15 overs.

Faf fires

Faf du Plessis, the former South African captain, came out all guns blazing with a brilliant 55-ball 96 to give Chennai a rollicking start. Having lost Shane Watson early, Chennai needed a partnership and Du Plessis along with Suresh Raina forged a 120-run stand for the second wicket. With a century in sight, Du Plessis missed out as he was castled by Sam Curran.

Raina returns to form

The southpaw who was struggling for a while roared back into form with a 34-ball half-century. Raina’s 38-ball 53 and Du Plessis’ 96 were instrumental in helping Chennai posted a commendable 173 for 4 at the end of 20 overs.

Rahul hits top gear

K. L. Rahul teed off straightaway with some clean hitting as the wicketkeeper-batsman along with Chris Gayle raised the century stand for the opening wicket to push Chennai on the backfoot. Rahul with a 36-ball 71 set the tone and played the role of an aggressor as the usual destructive Gayle was happy playing second fiddle with a run-a-ball 28. Rahul’s knock was studded with five towering sixes and seven hits to the fence at an amazing strike rate of 197.22.

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Harbhajan applies brakes

Just when it seemed that Punjab would disturb Chennai’s apple cart, Harbhajan Singh brought in all his experience and slowed down Punjab’s progress. After getting hit initially, the off-spinner returned to first remove the dangerous Rahul and then Gayle to stand on the verge of taking a hat-trick. Harbhajan struck in his next over to dismiss Mayank Agarwal as his three-for stretched Punjab’s batting. Chennai had to make Punjab bat more than 15 overs and Harbhajan’s comeback spell ensured it clinched a top-two finish.

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Pooran does it for Punjab

Although Rahul wiped off the majority of the total, Punjab still required someone to shoulder the responsibility of finishing the innings. Nicholas Pooran stood up with a 22-ball 36 and Curran who took three wickets finished off things in style to hand Punjab a consolation win.

Brief scores
  • Chennai Super Kings 170 for 5 (Faf du Plessis 96, Suresh Raina 53, Sam Curran 3 for 35, Mohammed Shami 2 for 17) lost to Kings XI Punjab 173 for 4 (K. L. Rahul 71, Nicholas Pooran 36 n.o., Harbhajan Singh 3 for 57) by six wickets.

Head to Head
  • Total Matches: 21
  • Chennai: 12
  • Punjab: 9
  • No Result: 0
  • Tie: 0.

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