With his back against the wall, Ruturaj Gaikwad produced his best ever IPL knock as the 24-year-old laid the foundation with an unbeaten 58-ball 88 before Dwayne Bravo led an excellent bowling display to power Chennai Super Kings to a crushing 20-run win over Mumbai Indians in the IPL on Sunday.
Gaikwad batted through the innings to lift Chennai Super Kings from a precarious 7/3 to 156 for six as IPL 2021 resumed in the UAE after the first phase in India was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in May. The late spark was provided by Bravo (23 off 8 balls) as CSK recovered from a disastrous start to put up a fighting total.
Chasing 157 on a pitch where the ball often stopped on the batsmen, MI too were off to a poor start as they slipped to 37 for three in the sixth over at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Both Quinton de Kock (17) and debutant Anmolpreet Singh (16) got out after getting starts, the bowler being pacer Deepak Chahar on both occasions.
Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan too made their way back to the dugout in quick succession to leave MI in a spot of bother at 58 for four in the 10th over.
Saurabh Tiwary (50 not out) and stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard tried to forge a partnership before Josh Hazlewood had the big-hitting all-rounder from Trinidad trapped in front of the wicket. CSK brightened their prospects further when Krunal Pandya was run out by the Dwayne Bravo-MS Dhoni combination.
Tiwary and Adam Milne tried but could not succeed, with the latter getting out to the experienced Bravo in the second ball of the 20th over. Bravo picked up 3/25 while Chahar had 2/19 as MI ended at 136 for eight.
Earlier, the 24-year-old Gaikwad added 81 runs for the fifth wicket with Ravindra Jadeja (26) to steady the ship after they lost skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the sixth over with the score reading 24 for 4. Gaikwad smashed nine fours and three sixes, while Bravo hit three maximums as CSK scored 112 runs in the back 10.
CSK lost four wickets in the power play, including the wickets of skipper Dhoni and the team's seasoned run-getter Suresh Raina, as three top-order batsmen failed to open their account.
The start was inauspicious for CSK as Trent Boult dismissed Faf du Plessis in the fifth ball of the very first over when the New Zealand pace spearhead had the veteran South African caught by the backward point fielder Adam Milne, who was standing very fine, after the batsman had shaped himself up to play the cut shot.
One for one became two for two in the next over as Milne got Moeen Ali who slapped a slightly short ball straight to Saurabh Tiwary at cover. What didn't help Moeen was that the ball seemed to stop as the England all-rounder went for his shot.
More trouble was in store for CSK as the three-time winners lost the big wicket of Raina in the third over when the experienced left-handed batsman, who has helped the team win so many matches in the past, got out to an irresponsible shot when he miscued one while trying to attack the Kiwi seamer. Meanwhile, Ambati Rayudu retired hurt after taking a blow on his body to make matter worse for the Super Kings.
Luckily for the three-time champions, the disastrous start with the bat did not matter as they recovered in fine fashion to register the win and claim top spot in the table.
The Super Kings will now have a four-day break, after which they will take on Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sharjah on September 24.
(with inputs from PTI)