While Dhoni-led Chennai have won both their opening games, Ashwin-led Kings XI come into the game on back of a loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Ashwin will play against his old team for the first time since taking over as captain of Kings XI Punjab.
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As it happened
It was yet another close encounter but Dhoni single-handedly made it so. It could have been a thumping win for Punjab otherwise. There is a lot left in the former Indian captain’s tank for sure and this knock is a testament to that. Punjab’s pacers need to do a lot better at the death; they nearly undid all the good work from Ashwin and Mujeeb from the middle-overs. Who would have thought that the chases sides would have ended up as the losers today? Let’s hope we have another thrilling day on our hands when Kolkata host Delhi. Ta-ta!
Dhoni: They bowled very well, Mujeeb made a difference. I don’t think there was much dew on the ground. They played better than us. I don’t know how bad my back is but it should be okay. God has given me enough power so I don’t have to rely on my back a lot. It shouldn’t be bad. I am used to playing with the injuries. You have to be tough.
Ashwin: It was crucial to get Rayudu at that point [On his celebrations after the run-out]. We are not going to be a team that thinks maybe we could have done this or that, we are going to be a team that thinks maybe we could have stuck to the basics.
Gayle is adjudged Man of the Match: It was good to be back. I got a text this morning that I would be playing. I am very happy that I have got to a winning start for Punjab. Rahul took pressure off me at times as well.
“Fielding, we cannot improve,” says Dhoni. Oops.
PUNJAB WIN BY 4 RUNS! CSK 193/5 in 20 overs Mohit Sharma wins it Dhoni can get just one from next two and Mohali is on its feet. Dhoni hits the last ball for a six, though. It was a magnificent from Dhoni, once again, showing that he can manipulate any target. Who would have thought Chennai would lose out by only four runs. Dhoni is far from finished. So is Gayle. What a match. Two high-scoring, edge-of-the-seat encounters and my weekend was made. How about yours?
CSK 187/5 in 19.3 overs FOUR! Sharma bowls a yorker but Dhoni squeezes it past the infield and it goes to the third-man fence. Squeaky bum time.
CSK 183/5 in 19.2 overs Just one run from the first two balls. Fine bowling from Mohit Sharma, who starts off with a crushing yorker and a dot ball. Dhoni reaches outside off-stump but can’t get his bat on it. The next one is a wide and Chennai get a run.
CSK 181/5 in 19 overs ANOTHER 19-RUN OVER! DHONI SPECIAL
Vintage Dhoni, as I mentioned earlier, is at work here. Even the Punjab fans couldn’t stop to applaud as it rains sixes at Mohali. Chennai can pull this off again. Dhoni is struggling with a back strain but that doesn’t stop the big-hits from coming. Tye’s bowling was ordinary two, delivering two rank full-tosses.
CSK 163/5 in 18.2 Overs OUT! You just cannot leave Ashwin out of the game, can you? Jadeja goes for a mighty heave, can’t get the elevation and the Punjab skipper inside the ring takes a safe catch.
R Jadeja c Ashwin b Tye 19 (13)
CSK 162/4 in 18 Overs 19 from the over! Mohit Sharma is taken to the cleaners by Jadeja and Dhoni. The Chennai skipper smashes him for a Six and a four and gets to his fifty. Jadeja also follows suit and ends the over with a thumping maximum over long-on. The chase is still on!
CSK 143/4 in 17 Overs 12 runs from Tye’s third over. Two boundaries came off it. First one was a vintage Dhoni bottom-hand thumping. Jadeja also gets one to the ropes and the chase might be on.
CSK 131/4 in 16 Overs Chennai need close to three runs a ball from here. Jadeja is not able to clear the ropes so far. It’s down to Dhoni now. Sran gives away nine runs from his final over. 67 needed from 24 balls.
CSK 122/4 in 15 Overs SIX! Dhoni clears the ropes but they need more than that to turn things around. The rest of the overs saw Ashwin outwit his former captain with his trademark variations. Chennai need 76 from the last five.
CSK 113/4 in 13.4 Overs OUT! This is Ashwin’s day out. Yet another fabulous piece of work by the Punjab skipper and it comes from a direct hit from mid-off. Rayudu falls one-run short of a fifty. The Punjab players are cock-a-hoop!
A Rayudu run out 49 (35)
CSK 101/3 in 12 Overs Dhoni hurts himself a bit after a hard-run two. Mujeeb continues to rifle it in at the batsmen, who find it hard to pick him up. Chennai need boundaries here. They haven’t got one in eight balls. Will Ashwin go back to his pacers at this stage?
CSK 85/3 in 10 Overs Mujeeb pegs Dhoni back with a terrific over, skidding the ball into the Chennai captain and giving nothing away. Just four from it and Chennai need 113 from the last 10 overs.
CSK 81/3 in 9 Overs Ashwin continues with his leg-spinners and gets mixed results. 13 from the over as Rayudu and Dhoni get boundaries and keep the scoreboard ticking. Chennai still have a mammoth task on their hands, needing 117 from the last 11 overs. The umpires call for a break.
CSK 56/3 in 6.4 Overs OUT! What a review from Punjab. The ball scraped Billings’ pad before trickling into the fence. Ashwin is convinced and goes up after much deliberation. Replays showed that the ball was clipping off-stump. Chennai in trouble.
S Billings lbw b Ashwin 9 (8)
CSK 53/2 in 6 Overs Chennai cross the fifty-run mark and Rayudu is looking fluent in the middle. Sam Billings has also settled in but the boundaries have dried up. Chennai need some big overs, and quickly.
CSK 39/2 in 4.1 Overs OUT! Another one goes and this time, it’s Vijay who goes trying to get quick runs. He tries to go over the infield and Sran takes another wicket.
M Vijay c Sran b Tye 12 (9)
CSK 31/1 in 3 Overs SIX! Murali Vijay is up and away with a full-blooded pull off Brainder Sran. The ball sails many a mile back into the deep mid-wicket stands.
CSK 17/1 in 2 Overs OUT! Mohit Sharma draws first blood for Punjab. Watson gets a top edge and the ball sails only as far as Sran at short fine-leg, who pouches a simple catch. Perfect start for Punjab.
Watson c Sran b Watson 11 (9)
KXIP 197/7 in 20 Overs What an end to the innings. Just four runs conceded from the final over and that included the wicket the wicket of Karun Nair. This should be enough on most days but this pitch is flat and CSK have the batting ammunition to get over the line.
KXIP 190/5 in 18.5 Overs OUT! There goes another one and it’s Ashwin who makes the long walk back after playing a cameo. Just a ball earlier, he had pulled Thakur over the ropes for a six at fine-leg. Here, he didn’t get the distance and Dhoni takes a safe catch.
R Ashwin c Dhoni b Thakur 14 (11)
KXIP 180/5 in 18 Overs Karun Nair is playing a bit of a blinder here and creams Bravo for a four and a six. He looked in good touch during the first two games as well. Punjab can get to 200 after all.
KXIP 157/5 in 15.3 Overs Now, Yuvraj Singh goes! Thakur bowls an excellent short delivery and Yuvraj is beaten in pace and feathers it to Dhoni. Yuvraj walks. He was just looking in good nick.
Yuvraj Singh c Dhoni b Thakur 20 (13)
KXIP 149/4 in 14.2 Overs OUT! Oh boy, more post-wedding woes for Finch, who is out plumb in front. Tahir wheels away in joy. Finch, just like the last game, takes a review. The decision stays.
A Finch lbw b Tahir 0 (1)
KXIP 149/3 in 14.1 Overs OUT! Agarwal departs after a fine knock. The bat turns in his hand as he went for another long hop and the ball goes straight to Jadeja, who judges the catch to perfection, inches before the boundary.
M Agarwal c Jadeja b Tahir 33 (19)
KXIP 136/2 in 13 Overs Yuvraj made a slow start but smashed a straight six down the ground to get things going. Agarwal continues to be in solid touch. Anything less than 200 will be a disappointment for Punjab.
KXIP 127/2 in 11.3 Overs OUT! Gayle is gone and the crowd goes silent. Slow ball from Watson, Gayle tries to dab it down to fine leg but with no pace on the ball, it only goes as far as Tahir at short-fine.
C Gayle c Tahir b Watson 63 (33)
KXIP 115/1 in 10 Overs For all who doubted Agarwal’s T20 credentials, this over was a fine example of what he can do. He hammered a big six down the ground a blazed one behind point for a four. The runs keep on coming. Are Punjab looking to outdo Rajasthan?
KXIP 96/0 in 8 Overs OUT! Oh Rahul, what have you done? It was a juicy full-toss ready to be put away but he chips it straight to Bravo at extra-cover, who breaks into his trademark jig.
KL Rahul c Bravo b Harbhajan 37 (22)
KXIP 92/0 in 7 Overs Tahir comes in, concedes 17! Will it ever stop? Gayle is now toying with the bowling. I’m pretty certain he has wearing a wicked smile under his helmet. His fifty came from just 22 balls. Tahir goes full and disappears over the ropes at will.
KXIP 75/0 in 6 Overs Gayle carnage! 22 from the over and Chahar learns a very hard lesson. Two sixes, two fours and the ball is sailing to all parts of Mohali. This was brute force at its absolute best and vintage Gayle. “Universe boss” and the best T20 batsman of all-time for a reason.
KXIP 53/0 in 5 Overs Runs galore! Thakur is also taken to the cleaners and Gayle is looking more and more dangerous. Rahul is a revelation with his pull shots after impressing with his drives earlier. Ominous signs for Chennai.
KXIP 39/0 in 4 Overs 19 from the over! Punjab have shifted gears and it’s Rahul who is leading the charge. Gayle settles into a good rhythm by creaming Harbhajan for six and a four. Rahul’s cover-drive show continues.
KXIP 20/0 in 3 Overs Rahul’s march continues. He pulls Chahar to the fine leg fence, effortlessly. Ricky Ponting would have been proud of that but it was a good over for Chennai. Chahar teased Gayle outside the off-stump on multiple occasions, earning three dot balls in a row.
KXIP 15/0 in 2 Overs Gayle gets off the mark with a crisp boundary from a drive on the off side. Rahul, meanwhile, is off to a flier once again, getting two boundaries through the cover region off Chahar. 10 runs came from the first over.
“We’re a team of overaged boys, so we need to watch our workloads. But with age comes experience,” - Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni.
Head to Head
Overall: M: 17, KXIP won: 7, CSK won: 10.
Kings XI: Rahul, Gayle, Agarwal, Finch, Yuvraj, Karun, Ashwin, Tye, Barinder, Mohit, Mujeeb.
Chennai XI: Watson, Rayudu, Vijay, Dhoni, Billings, Jadeja, Bravo, Chahar, Harbhajan, Tahir, Thakur.
Toss: Chennai win toss and opt to field first. Huge roar goes around Mohali as Chris Gayle comes in for Punjab. Axar out with a niggle, Brainder Sran to feature in Punjab XI. Murali Vijay in for the injured Suresh Raina.
Chennai Super Kings will look to continue their winning streak when they lock horns with Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Sunday.
It will be the third game for both teams.
After opening their campaign with a stunning win over Mumbai Indians in the tournament opener, Chennai Super Kings pulled off yet another thrilling chase to beat Kolkata Knight Riders.
The likes of Dwayne Bravo and Sam Billings are in red-hot form for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team.
On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab are coming into the match after a loss against Royal Challengers Bangalore.
The KXIP started the season on a resounding note, beating Delhi Daredevils by six wickets. KL Rahul, who fashioned the victory with the fastest-ever fifty in IPL, justified why the franchise spent Rs 11 crore for him.
Rahul smashed a 30-ball 47 against RCB and had Punjab not lost wickets in quick succession, they could have notched up a bigger total than the 155 they managed while batting first.