Shane Watson and MS Dhoni scored scintillating half-centuries to set up a 13-run win over Delhi Daredevils in Pune on Monday, taking the two-time IPL champions closer to a play-off berth.
Watson (78 off 40) and Dhoni (51* off 22) gave a masterclass in power hitting to fire Super Kings to 211 for four after Daredevils opted to field on a good batting surface.
Needing more than 10 runs an over put scoreboard-pressure on the visitors and they wilted. Rishabh Pant (79 off 45) and Vijay Shankar (51* off 31) ensured Daredevils get closer to the target but it was not enough as they ended at 198 for five.
Super Kings pacer Lungi Ngidi impressed on his IPL debut, ending with figures of one for 26 in four overs.
Downhill for Delhi
It was Delhi’s sixth loss in eight games and now they are all but out of the play-off race. With a sixth win in eight games, CSK further consolidated their position at the top of the points table. They are tied on 12 points with Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Delhi kept losing wickets in the chase and at 74 for four in ninth over, it seemed all over for them. But Pant and Vijay Shankar showed some fight to take them close. The duo were severe on Dwayne Bravo especially, and at one point the visitors needed 55 off 18 balls, which is not unheard of in the league. Ngidi’s dismissal of Pant, however, ruled a win out effectively before Vijay Shankar hit three sixes in the 19th over by Bravo to get to his 50.
With 17 needed off 3 balls in the last over, Delhi needed a miracle but got three singles instead.
The Watto-Dhoni show
Earlier, Watson was back to his brutal best after three low scores and shared a 102-run opening off 66 balls stand with Faf du Plessis (33) after surviving a close lbw call on the first ball of the match.
Dhoni showed his devastating touch in the last five overs which produced 74 runs. It was also Dhoni’s second fastest fifty in the IPL.
At the top of the order, Watson was unstoppable after Boult almost had him trapped in front of the stumps with a pacy inswinger at the start of the match. The visiting team took the DRS but the third umpire did not have conclusive evidence on whether it was bat-first or pad-first to overrule the not out call of the on-field umpire.
It was also a bit surprising that the tournament’s leading run scorer Ambati Rayudu (41 off 24) did not open the innings with Watson.
However, the the Watson-du Plessis duo produced the desired result for the Super Kings who raced to 100 in just 10.2 overs.
Watson, who hit a hundred earlier in the tournament, got going by depositing Liam Plunkett for two sixes in the fifth over that eventually leaked 20 runs. Watson hammered as many as seven sixes with most of them coming straight or over square leg.
When the former Australian all-rounder departed, the dangerous combine of Rayudu and Dhoni got together in the 14th over.
The captain got into the act with successive sixes off Boult, one over mid-wicket and other other one from a bottom-handed jab over long on. The third one was a whip off Avesh Khan over square leg, almost going out of the ground. He ended up with five sixes and two fours.
Rayudu too made sure the big hits kept coming as he hit five fours and a six in his entertaining cameo. His fourth wicket stand of 79 with Dhoni came off just 36 balls.
The Super Kings skipper was able to complete a third half century of the IPL-11 with a double off the final ball of the innings.
The Delhi bowlers were all over the place especially the experienced overseas pair of Boult and Plunkett, who leaked 100 runs in seven overs.
Dhoni made as many four changes in the playing eleven, bringing in du Plessis, Karn Sharma, Ngidi and young Kerala pacer KM Asif. Daredevils on the other hand did not make any changes after the win against KKR at home.
What the captains said
MS Dhoni, the winning captain: “It’s quite bad, but it’s alright. I have not been training much. I think it’s the platform [about his batting form]. “It’s quite bad, but nothing much can be done because there’s not much of a resting period. I haven’t been training much because of that. T20 is not much workload, so it’s manageable. It’s very important for us to get off to a good start, not necessarily in terms of runs, but even a good partnership, and I can promote myself and come out at No. 5.”
“[About batting lineup] It was about weighing Faf opening, Rayudu at 4 vs Rayudu opening and Faf at No 4. The first option gave us stability. Right now we have a luxury spot in our XI which we use according to situations. Death bowling is a concern, the margin of errors is very small, you need to know how to bowl to the field. Bowlers have to take responsibility.”
Shreyas Iyer: “Not just me, but the entire dressing felt it was out [Watson LBW off the first ball]. We got close at the end, but losing four wickets had a massive impact. We’ll now need to win six out of six to stand a chance. That’s our motivation going forward.”