Spinners help CSK beat KXIP by 22 runs

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CHENNAI, April 6: The Chennai Super Kings-Kings XI Punjab clash at Chepauk didn’t prove to be a happy homecoming for R Ashwin as his side went down to their fancied opponents by 22 runs on Saturday evening.
If the star offie kept CSK in check with the ball (4-0-23-3) in the first half of play, Punjab’s opener KL Rahul (55, 3×4, 1×6) and Sarfaraz Khan (67, 4×4, 2×6) did most things right in their 110-run third-wicket stand but failed to close out the contest.
But just when the Punjab’s chase needed impetus, they failed to hit the accelerator button. When Rahul departed in the 18th over, Punjab were 44 away from their target. With CSK having bowled out their spinners, skipper Dhoni had to bring in his debutant Scott Kuggeleijn (2-37) and Deepak Chahar (1-40) to bowl at the death.
Sarfaraz, despite being a set batsman at that point, failed to go big against CSK’s weak link – the pace bowlers. Sarfaraz’s innings was fluent but lacked the punch needed to take his side past the finish line.
With 46 needed off the last 18 balls, Punjab were definitely in the game with two set batsmen – Rahul and Sarfaraz at crease. However, CSK clawed their way back into the contest with their pacers varying the pace and not allowing the Punjab batsmen to free their arms.
Chahar gave away 13 runs in the penultimate over while Punjab could only manage just 3 runs off the final over bowled by Kuggeleijn. Punjab will rue the fact that they were in the chase for the better part of the second half but their inability to go for the final burst cost them dear.
CSK’s fourth win in the tournament took their points tally to 8 from 5 games, while Punjab – who suffered their second successive loss in the competition – remain on 6 from 5 outings.
In pursuit of 161 on a two-paced track, the visitors were wrecked early when Harbhajan Singh sent back dangerman Chris Gayle (5, 1×4) and No. 3 Mayank Agarwal (0) in the second over of the chase. The Sarfaraz-Rahul pair then resurrected the visitors’ ship but couldn’t go on to finish the job.
Earlier in the day, CSK finished on 160 for 3 with opener Faf du Plessis (54, 2×4, 4×6) being the leading run-getter. Despite playing his first game of the season, Faf showed no signs of rustiness as he made every scoring opportunity count.
In the company of Shane Watson, Faf added 56 in 7.2 overs to provide a sedate start. Watson went for slog sweep off the bowling of R Ashwin only for Sam Curran to have him caught at deep mid-wicket.
Once Watson departed, Faf stitched a 44-run partnership with Suresh Raina (17, 1×4) to help CSK cross the 100-run mark in the 14th over. R Ashwin (3 for 23) cut Faf’s innings short by having him caught at long-on region by David Miller.
If Faf provided the initial thrust, MS Dhoni (37 n.o., 4×4, 1×6) and Ambati Rayudu (21 n.o., 1×4, 1×6) were instrumental in the side crossing the 150-run mark. (TNN)