Mahendra Singh Dhoni rolled back the clock with four boundaries and three sixes on Sunday, but it was too little too late as the Chennai Super Kings suffered their first loss of the 2024 Indian Premier League, going down by 20 runs to Delhi Capitals in Visakhapatnam.

The 42-year-old from Ranchi, who relinquished his captaincy ahead of the season, walked in with the Super Kings struggling at 120/6 and smashed an unbeaten 37 off 16 deliveries. With the victory virtually out of grasp, Dhoni decided to take it as match practice and turned down singles in the final two overs with Ravindra Jadeja at the other end.

Earlier in the day, the Delhi Capitals won the toss and posted 191/5 in their 20 overs after opting to bat first. David Warner (52) and Rishabh Pant (51) struck half centuries, while a returning Prithvi Shaw cracked 43, opening the innings.

Pacer Matheesha Pathirana stood out for the Super Kings with in the field, finishing with figures of 3-31 and also taking a stunning one-handed catch at short third man to dismiss Warner.

Turning point of the match

The Chennai Super Kings struggled in the chase right from the word go, thanks to some exceptional bowling in the powerplay from Khaleel Ahmed and Ishant Sharma.

However, the defending champions soon clawed their way back into the contest with a 45-ball 68 runs third-wicket partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and Daryl Mitchell. While the latter fell to Axar Patel in the 11th over for 34, the former continued to motor along.

Though the Super Kings required 91 runs to win off the final seven overs, it looked plausible with a well-set Rahane still in the middle alongside the hard hitting Shivam Dube. Enter Mukesh Kumar for the first time in the match.

The 30-year-old Kumar struck twice in his first over, removing Rahane for 45 before sending back the young Sameer Rizvi for a golden duck the very next ball. He mixed up his variations right from start and conceded only two runs of the over. The match decisively turned in favour of the Delhi Capitals from that over.

Despite Dhoni’s heroics at the death, the Chennai Super Kings never caught up with the Capitals after the 14th over from Kumar. The pacer also went on to remove Dube in the 17th over of the chase as he finished with figures of 3-21 in three overs.

The Field's Player of the match

Khaleel Ahmed with his unplayable spell in the batting powerplay is unarguably The Field’s Player of the Match. The left-arm pacer made the Super Kings top order dance to his tunes with his swing and finished the powerplay with figures of 2-9 overs.

Ahmed struck in the very first over prizing out the opposition captain Ruturaj Gaikwad (1) cheaply. The delivery pitched outside off and swung back in to the right hander, who could only manage a faint edge to the wicketkeeper.

Ahmed then returned with a maiden over, tying down Kiwi batter Rachin Ravindra at the striker’s end. The southpaw tried to take on the bowler, but failed to connect bat to ball for three balls. Rachin eventually perished the next delivery, mistiming a lofted shot down the ground.

Ahmed bowled one more over in the powerplay, before returning at the death to finish his quota of four overs with figures of 2-21.

‘Always had the self belief’

Before Dhoni’s onslaught and pacers Ahmed and Kumar’s display in the Delhi Capital’s adopted home ground, it was captain Pant’s evening in Visakhapatnam.

Having promoted himself to number three after Prithvi Shaw and David Warner’s opening run stand of 93, Pant had to take charge of the rebuilding as Marsh and Stubbs fell in quick succession to leave the Capitals reeling at 134/4 after 15 overs.

Pant was batting at 23 off 23 deliveries at the end of the 17th over before he opened his arms. He first laid into the left-arm pace of Mustafizur Rahman, smashing him for a boundary and a trademark one-handed six over the backward square leg boundary in the 18th over.

With his confidence back, Pant took a liking to Pathirana, who then had figures of 2-14 in three overs, in the 19th over.

The left handed batter smashed the Sri Lankan for a six and two boundaries in consecutive deliveries to bring up his half-century off 31 balls. While the six and the first four were straight down the ground, the second boundary which brought up his first half century since his return to cricket was hit square of the wicket.

Though Pant fell the very next ball, he had done enough for the Capitals. Pathirana finished 3-31 in four overs.

“I took my time initially because I have not played much cricket in the last one and a half-years, but I kept believing I could change the match. Cricket is something I have built my life on. I always had the self-belief that whatever happens, I will be back. It is still important to keep learning as a cricketer.”

— Delhi Capitals captain Rishabh Pant

Points Table

Position Team Played Won Lost NRR Points
1 KKR 2 2 0 1.047 4
2 CSK 3 2 1 0.976 4
3 RR 2 2 0 0.800 4
4 GT 3 2 1 -0.738 4
5 SRH 3 1 2 0.204 2
6 LSG 2 1 1 0.025 2
7 DC 3 1 2 -0.016 2
8 PBKS 3 1 2 -0.337 2
9 RCB 3 1 2 -0.711 2
10 MI 2 0 2 -0.925 0