KXIP went into the match with yet another different team, thus earning the distinction of not playing the same squad in any two consecutive matches. They bowled well during the death overs to restrict CSK to a subpar score and then chased down the total with intent to end yet another sorry season with a consolation win.
Having opted to bowl first, the KXIP bowlers kept the CSK openers under check to limit them to 42/1 after the powerplay. However, they struggled to take wickets or stop the flow of the runs in the middle overs. M. Ashwin & Andrew Tye had an off day and returned with combined figures of 6-0-70-0. However, Sam Curran, R, Ashwin & Shami bowled brilliantly in the last four overs where CSK could manage only 28 runs despite the platform being laid for Dhoni & Co., thus restricting CSK to 170 runs,
The way Rahul began KXIP’s chase, he reminded everyone of KXIP’s first match last year. He blitzkrieged his way to the 3rd fastest fifty of the season. He took a special liking for Bhajji whom he struck for four sixes and three fours in his first two overs. While KL was going bonkers at one end Gayle was trudging slowly at the other. KXIP had raced to 108/0 at the end of 10 overs and the outcome of the match was a foregone conclusion. After the openers departed in the 11th over, Pooran continued the assault to take KXIP across the finish line in the 18th over.
Sam Curran was the pick of the bowlers for KXIP with 3 wickets and two sensational death overs. He was well supported by Shami who had figures of 3-0-17-2 and a last over to Dhoni & Co where he gave away just 5 runs and took two wickets. KL Rahul top scored with 71(36) to take his season’s tally to 593 runs.
CSK lost the match but ensured a top-two finish. CSK were yet again in a position for a strong finish with the bat but failed to take benefit of the strong platform. The spinners too were rendered ineffective on a fast Mohali pitch.
After being asked to bat first, CSK’s openers began cautiously. They were at 30/0 after the 4th over when Watson failed once again. Raina then joined Du Plessis to what was the beginning of a 120 run partnership. Both the batsmen kept toying with the bowling attack while picking the occasional boundary to keep the scoreboard ticking. They had reached 106/1 by the end of the 14th over. It was then that Du Plessis went berserk scoring 36 of the next two overs. However, once both of them fell, the rest of the CSK batsmen failed to score big and could reach a score of just 170 which was at least 20 less than desired.
CSK bowlers, especially Bhajji were taken for cleaners by KL. KXIP scored 41 runs of Bhajji’s first two overs. Even Tahir was taken for 17 runs in his first over by Gayle. Chahar & Bravo though put some brakes on the scoring rates they could not pick any wicket to put any sort of dent on KXIP’s chase. It was only in the 11th over, when Bhajji came back to bowl his second spell, did CSK taste any success. Both the openers fell off successive deliveries and Bhajji then also accounted for Mayank in the 13th over. Jadeja was taken for 13 runs in his first over by Pooran & overall the only consolation for CSK was that they did not let KXIP chase the score down in 14.3 overs, thus ensuring a top-two finish.
Du Plessis & Raina scored 96(55) & 53(38) respectively and were the stars with the bat. Bhajji too made a good comeback when he took 3 wickets in his second spell of two overs.
KXIP replicated their performance from the last season where they started strongly only to taper off in the second half to finish in the bottom half of the table. They got some introspection to do fill in the voids in the middle order & ramp up their pace bowling attack in the next season.
CSK will host MI in the first qualifier on the 7th of May. Watson’s form and their over-dependence on Dhoni to finish things should be the areas that they would like to work on before the next match. Jadhav’s injury to has given some worries to the CSK management. However, playing in Chennai, CSK should start as favorites despite having lost to MI there during the league stage.
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