Chennai Super Kings (CSK) avoid losing their third match on the trot after securing a comfortable 6-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) at Chepauk, thanks to a magical 96 off 53 from Shane Watson – missing out on his fifth century by a whisker. Losing three matches on the bounce is not something CSK go through on many occasions, but after reaching the summit, they tasted defeats at the hands of SRH at Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) at Chinnaswamy. After losing out on the top spot 4 hours ago, CSK have reclaimed it, while SRH remain at No. 4, still very much in the hunt for a place in the playoffs. However, with 16 points in the bag, CSK have more or less assured themselves of a place in the top 4.
The wicket at Chepauk was not as spin-friendly as it has been in the previous matches, but had some bonce, swing and the ball was coming on to the bat quite well, making stroke-playing easy. However, the ball often stopped at the batsmen the spinners as well, which often resulted in the batsmen scooping the ball in the air.
The ploy of bringing back Harbhajan Singh (as expected) was initially seen as a good move, even more, after he got rid of Jonny Bairstow for a duck in the second over of the innings. However, what CSK did not anticipate is the way Manish Pandey batted. Pandey had not scored a single score of 20 in this season, but when he came in at No. 3, he looked determined. The middle-order was one of the major worrying factors for SRH, but today, they showed their potential, especially after they lost their in-form batsman Bairstow early.
Pandey (83*) and David Warner (57) put on 115 for the second wicket and gave the rest of the batsmen an excellent platform to build on. However, SRH managed just 55 more runs off 39 deliveries after that and one felt that CSK had done well at the death to pull things back to a certain extent.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has had struggles of his own this campaign, swung the ball around extremely well in the first over of the chase and started off with a maiden. The next over produced just two runs. The pressure bottled up and in pursuit of a quick run, Faf du Plessis was run-out courtesy of a direct hit from Deepak Hooda. CSK ended the powerplay at 49 for 1, out of which 33 runs came off the previous two overs. After being bowled for a golden duck in the previous match against RCB, Suresh Raina smacked four fours and a six off the sixth over to give CSK the momentum going into the middle phase.
Watson, who had accumulated just 147 from his 10 innings this season, started to find the middle of the bat and struck a couple of sixes. But Raina had a slice of luck at the other end when Bairstow dropped a diving catch off Sandeep Sharma. That did not cost the team much as Rashid Khan removed Raina in the next over for 38 off 24.
No bowler including Rashid troubled Watson and he kept CSK ahead of the required run-rate at all times. There was a bit of banter between Rashid and Watson, but it was the Aussie, who had the last laugh. He got good support from Ambati Rayudu at the other end, who was happy to play second fiddle. However, despite losing Watson and Rayudu (21) in the final stages of the game, CSK managed to win the match with a ball to spare.
After Bairstow was dismissed in the second over of the match, SRH’s win % dropped by 6 and it stood at 44%. However, Warner and Pandey’s superb partnership took SRH to a par total.
CSK on the other hand got off to a slow start, but accelerated well in the middle phase thanks to Watson and Raina. However, there was a bit of scare in store for them when they scored just four runs from the 19th over off Khaleel Ahmed, due to which their win % took a 13% dip, which was the most in the innings.
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