Opening bowler’s four for 13 breaks the back of PBKS batting; du Plessis (36 n.o.), Moeen (46) help Chennai chase down 107-run target with 4.2 overs to spare for first win
Deepak Chahar’s inspiring spell of swing bowling set up Chennai Super Kings’ facile win over Punjab Kings to help the three-time champion open its account in IPL-14.
Thanks to Chahar’s trademark spell up front, aided by Ravindra Jadeja’s magic in the field, CSK stifled PBKS to a meagre 106 for eight at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The top-order then ensured that the team presented M.S. Dhoni — making his 200th appearance for CSK, which includes 24 in the Champions League — with a fitting gift, a dominant six-wicket victory.
Chahar sealed the fate of the game in the PowerPlay itself once Dhoni elected to field. With the dew yet to set in, the swing bowler took just four balls to flummox Mayank Agarwal. The delivery started on the middle-stump but moved away after pitching to hit the top of off-stump.
Had Ruturaj Gaikwad not dropped Chris Gayle at point two balls later, Chahar may have celebrated twice in the first over. In Chahar’s next over, captain K.L. Rahul took on Jadeja’s arm while attempting a sharp single and the fielder, running in from the covers, struck timber to find the batsman short.
It meant Gayle had no option but to rebuild the innings along with the opening game’s hero, Deepak Hooda. But Chahar had different plans as he struck twice in his third over. He first saw Jadeja lunge forward to pouch an uppish drive by Gayle and then used the short-ball ploy effectively against Nicholas Pooran.
Dhoni persisted with Chahar even after the PowerPlay and Hooda offered Faf du Plessis catching practice at mid-off in the seventh over. At 26 for five, the game was all but done and dusted.
Despite M. Shahrukh Khan’s impressive innings (47, 36b, 4×4, 2×6), with little support from the other end, PBKS had to find solace in the fact that it managed to reach three figures without being bowled out.
In the chase, Gaikwad and du Plessis struggled for timing against accurate pace bowling. Although Gaikwad holed out in the deep off Arshdeep Singh, Moeen Ali (46, 31b, 7×4, 1×6) continued his silken touch with the willow.
While Moeen scored freely — his twin fours off Mohammed Shami, either side of the wicket, were a treat to watch — du Plessis (36 n.o.) took his time before going after leggie M. Ashwin.
CSK lost Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu off successive Shami deliveries, but by then the writing was on the wall.