Anureet Singh had been hanging around for a while. He had played 19 balls already for his 10 runs and looked uncomfortable throughout his stay; playing and missing but getting the occasional single. A slower short one from Mohit Sharma finally ended his misery. He spooned a chance to point where Ravindra Jadeja gleefully accepted it to leave King XI nine down for 94. They still needed 99.

Jadeja did not celebrate. He did not throw the ball high in the air. The players did not come together for the customary huddle after a wicket. MS Dhoni just clapped from behind the wicket and Mohit Sharma just went back to his mark. Chennai Super Kings had already rung the death knell for Kings XI Punjab. They felt this was not worth any celebration.

Perhaps Kings XI were unlucky to run up against a rampaging CSK side on Saturday, who were irresistible in every aspect of the game, and suffered their worst defeat in the IPL in terms of margin of runs: 97.

Gambling with Karanveer Singh went horribly wrong

Karanveer Singh was brought back into the side and was given the toughest task possible: contain Brendon McCullum and Dwayne Smith, the deadly combo at the top of the order, a nightmare for all teams. It did not look promising from the very first ball. Smith went inside out for his first boundary. Though Karanveer managed to keep it tight for the rest of the over, it was just the initiation.

Karanveer's second over went for 22. He tried to vary his length several times and beat the batsman with flight, but Smith was up to the task. Two fours and two sixes, and as usual the CSK innings had taken off without jitters. In no time the opening pair had reached their third fifty partnership this season.

Before the World Cup final, McCullum had stood as the big obstacle to Australia's title hopes. Mitchell Starc removed him in the first over with aggressive super fast bowling and blew away New Zealand's chances. Kings XI had the option to employ another Mitchell against McCullum today, right at the beginning. But Bailey was stubborn with his plans to use Johnson as first change. So far, he has not opened the bowling in any of the six games of IPL 8.

Johnson not indispensable

But that does not mean Johnson would have been successful had he bowled at the start. He had another horrid day on the field. He started off well in his first over, troubling McCullum by not giving him any room to work with and conceding only 3 runs. But he went for 37 in his last 3 overs, struggling to get the yorkers in.

Johnson was guilty of pitching it short on a wicket that did not offer steep bounce, and was duly punished by McCullum and, later, by MS Dhoni. Johnson's figures in the last four games, including this match, read 42-0, 41-1, 33-1, and 40-0; not what is expected from the lead paceman in the team.

It was not only Johnson's bowling that was hurting Kings XI. Usually a safe catcher, he dropped two catches inexplicably. First, when McCullum came down the wicket and mistimed one off Anureet Singh over mid-off. Johnson did well to pedal back, but let the ball reach his chest level and tried to catch it in a very un-Australian way with the hands forming a normal cup. The ball bounced off and Johnson's attempts to flick it up again with his foot were unsuccessful.

He spilled another one later in the innings when Suresh Raina hit Axar Patel to deep square leg. He did not even get his hands around the ball this time. It might be a good option to give the Australian a break as a hectic season of cricket  seems to have sapped all his energy.

No answer to CSK’s spinning web

Chasing 192 was not going to be easy, but Kings XI had history on their side. They had scored more than 200 in all the three meetings between these two teams last season. The main tormentor from that campaign, Glenn Maxwell, was not playing this match after an indifferent start to his season.

But Maxwell might not have to warm the bench too long, considering how shallow the batting order looked today. Virender Sehwag pushed at one outside off and lobbed a catch to mid-off. It has become a pain to watch this master from yesteryears. With every passing game, his eyesight seems to be on the wane.

A lot rested on captain George Bailey and David Miller after Shaun Marsh felled to Ashish Nehra. But the introduction of spin quelled the hope of a rescue mission. Bailey was caught behind off Jadeja. Miller was outsmarted by Dhoni's leg slip tactics and Raina's agility.

When Murali Vijay picked out Dwayne Bravo at midwicket off the bowling of Ashwin to leave Kings XI at 55 for 5 in the 10th over, the match was almost as good as over.

A lack of intensity on the field

The slackness on the field among the Kings XI players is discernible from afar. The shoulders are drooping too fast. In one Axar Patel over , MS Dhoni worked the ball to the leg side and took off for a double. Not once, four times consecutively, and he made it comfortably each time. No rocket arm from the deep to intervene.

Bailey and Bangar will have a lot of backroom work to get the season back on track for Kings XI. They could start by asking for that extra bit of effort on the field from their players.

Chennai Super Kings (192) beat Kings XI Punjab (95 for 9) by 97 runs.