KL Rahul's Punjab round off a hattrick of losses for qualified Chennai

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07 Oct 2021 | 01:39 PM
authorcricket.com staff

KL Rahul's Punjab round off a hattrick of losses for qualified Chennai

Last year, same time, it was the Chennai Super Kings, who acted as spoilsports to Punjab’s last hopes.

When Punjab Kings had their schedule out for the second leg of the competition, their final fixture of the season against Chennai Super Kings would have definitely stood out in their mind. In the scathing heat of the Middle East, their hopes were crushed by the Super Kings, as they finished sixth on the points table. But with nearly nothing to lose this time around, Punjab had other plans, with a jolting start against the Men in Yellow. 

Having watched Chennai’s last clash against Delhi meticulously, Punjab and in particular, Arshdeep Singh stormed the right-hander Ruturaj Gaikwad’s vision with aplomb. Only a few innings after his stunning century, Gaikwad was found out by Delhi and now Punjab with short-deliveries, against which he has not yet found an answer. 

Punjab were not done yet in the Dubai heat, with impeccable line and length that restricted the free-flowing Chennai batsmen from getting any sort of momentum. Having struck in the 4th over of the innings, Arshdeep was in the middle of things, when he saw the back of Moeen Ali, who has had a severe dip in form since reaching the Middle East, with a six-ball duck. 

In six innings prior to the Middle East adventure, the English all-rounder had scored 206 runs in six games, at an average of 34.33, striking at 157.3. However, since the touchdown, Ali has been a shadow self of himself, with just 98 runs, at a strike-rate of 101, with his second duck. 

Arshdeep, on the other hand, picked up his eight wicket in the powerplay to strengthen his case for a possible retention spot next year on Punjab’s side. With 30 runs, Chennai were on the wrong side of things immediately in Dubai, as Robin Uthappa walked out to bat. 

Punjab spinners and the middle-overs stronghold

The two Punjab spinners – Ravi Bishnoi and Harpreet Brar – combined to prevent any kind of momentum for the Super Kings, who were aiming to reverse their fortunes. Despite the indifferent start, Chennai’s hopes were still intact when skipper Ambati Rayudu joined Faf du Plessis at the crease after Uthappa holed out to the deep. 

However, Rayudu’s innings was cut short when he ironically cut one straight into the hands of Harpeet Brar, giving Chris Jordan his second wicket in the innings. While MS Dhoni got two boundaries off Bishnoi’s bowling, he was yet again undone by the googly, his third dismissal against the particular kind of delivery, to leave Chennai in jitters, at 61/5, with only eight overs left in the innings. The two spinners ended with figures of 0/22 and 1/25.

Du Plessis bails Chennai out

Having watched several of his partners walk back playing terrible shots, du Plessis ensured that he kept Chennai in the game, rotating the strike with Ravindra Jadeja. However, it wasn’t until the 16th over of the innings before the Proteas opener pressed his foot on the accelerator. Against Arshdeep, du Plessis scored a boundary and got ten runs off the over, as Chennai had put on 96 runs on the board. 


In the next 11 deliveries that du Plessis faced, he scored 28 runs, including three boundaries and two sixes before Mohammed Shami had the last laugh. With 16 runs in the final over, Chennai ended their innings on 134/6, a total that looked terribly under-par on a surface that was deemed batting-friendly. Jordan and Arshdeep were the stand-out bowlers for Punjab, with figures of 2/20 and 2/35 as Faf top-scored with 55-ball 76 in the first innings. 

Punjab blew Chennai to smithereens

In contrast to Chennai’s first innings, Punjab were not just proactive but more efficient against the new ball and the fielding restriction as they raced to 27 runs after three overs, as Rahul started on an aggressive foot, with 19 runs off his first ten balls. 

While Josh Hazlewood conceded just two runs in his first over, he was thrown in the deep by Rahul, who crunched the leather, with two boundaries and a six. Shardul Thakur’s first over certainly gave Chennai some hopes, with a two-wicket over, sending both Mayank Agarwal and Sarfaraz Khan in the span of three deliveries.

 

Despite losing quick wickets, Rahul’s approach was unperturbed, as he chased the lengths of the boundaries in Dubai, bringing up his fastest half-century since the 2019 clash against Chennai in Mohali, off just 25 balls. Shahrukh Khan perished after scoring a six, with a ten-ball eight. While Aiden Markram did clear the boundary, Rahul ensured that it was him with the carnage in Dubai. 

In the next 17 deliveries after bringing up his half-century, Rahul scored 48 runs, taking on every bowler to take Punjab home with seven overs to spare, their fastest run-chase this season. Incredibly, on the other hand, it also brought Chennai’s fifth loss when they are defending a total this season, showing their vulnerability after being put to bat first. 

Brief Scores: Punjab Kings (KL Rahul 98, Aiden Markram 13; Shardul Thakur 3/28) beat Chennai Super Kings (Faf du Plessis 76, Ravindra Jadeja 15; Chris Jordan 2/20) by six wickets with 42 balls remaining

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Chennai Super Kings vs Punjab KingsIndian Premier League, 2021Chennai Super KingsPunjab KingsKL RahulShardul Thakur

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