It just wasn’t to be for Kings XI Punjab in their final league game of the 2020 Dream11 Indian Premier League, as a poised chase by Ruturaj Gaikwad and Faf du Plessis helped Chennai Super Kings get over the line on Sunday, November 1. KXIP arguably fell short by 10-20 runs at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, and CSK got over the line with an over to spare to eliminate KL Rahul’s side from the IPL. 

Batting first, the returning Mayank Agarwal found his groove almost immediately, getting two boundaries on the leg side in the very first over. His partner in crime KL Rahul also followed suit, flashing hard at a ball outside off-stump to get the first six of the game. 

Agarwal continued to make the most of the powerplay, getting a boundary either side of the wicket off Sam Curran’s second over. The 29-year-old then welcomed new bowler Lungi Ngidi with a stylish four over the in-field, but the South African came back strong as Agarwal was knocked over the very next ball. Nevertheless, KXIP made an admirable start to the game, ending the powerplay at 53/1. 

Ngidi struck again a couple of overs later, this time accounting for the big fish KL Rahul. The couple of wickets gave Chennai a route back into the game, as the batting side only got to 65/2 at the halfway point of their innings. Things got even worse for KXIP, as new man Nicholas Pooran had to walk back to the pavilion after scoring just two runs. It wasn’t to be Chris Gayle’s day either, as he was trapped plumb in front of the wicket by the seasoned Imran Tahir, leaving Kings XI in a spot of bother at 73/4 after 12 overs. 

Mandeep Singh and Deepak Hooda were tasked with resurrecting the KXIP innings, and both started brightly getting a boundary apiece off Deepak Chahar’s penultimate over. Hooda looked the more attacking of the two, picking up his first six of the evening to take the team score past 100. Mandeep tried to play his first big shot shortly after against Ravindra Jadeja, but missed the length of the ball to see it crashing into his off stump. 

New man Jimmy Neesham couldn’t make an impact and was dismissed for single digits, caught in the deep trying to play a big shot. Hooda however didn’t show any signs of slowing down, getting two big sixes on the off-stump to set up for a strong finish. The 25-year-old got another four on the off-stump in the next over, as he got to his half century in no time- getting to that mark of just 26 balls. 

In the final over, Hooda struck a four and a six to ensure KXIP finished with a flurry, setting a challenging target of 154 for the Chennai Super Kings. 

Turning Point

The three overs after the powerplay in the KXIP innings proved to be their undoing as Chennai picked up a couple of big wickets and curbed the flow of runs to ensure they got a modest total. 

KXIP’s bowlers started brightly, as the first two overs went for just 11 runs. Ruturaj Gaikwad took his time to settle, but took a chance against Chris Jordan to good effect, getting the first six of the evening in the third over. Fellow opener Faf du Plessis too joined in the act, scoring his first six with his trademark ramp shot. 

Both CSK openers got a boundary apiece of the fifth over, to get the run rate at nearly nine at over. Du Plessis also got a four and a six of the final powerplay over, putting his franchise in pole position at 57 for no wicket. 

Post the powerplay, KXIP spinners Ravi Bishnoi and Murugan Ashwin as the next three overs went for just 14, but a wicket still remained elusive. Du Plessis was tempted to take some risks when pace was reintroduced into the attack, and tried the ramp shot again against Jordan but flawed timing saw the ball go straight to keeper Rahul. 

Despite the wicket, CSK remained ahead of the curve as new man Ambati Rayudu quickly found a boundary on the off side to get the asking rate below seven. Gaikwad at the other end too expertly maneuvered the gaps to push his team’s score to 113/1 after 14. 

The young opener got two more smart fours on the off-side shortly after to get to his third consecutive fifty, and reduce the equation to a run a ball. Rayudu in the next over picked up a boundary over the in-field to get the required rate below six for the first time. 

Gaikwad got a four off Shami’s penultimate over as well, to leave his side needing just seven of the final two overs. Chris Gayle chanced his arm in the 19th over of the game, but CSK were in control of the chase by them; and got to the finish line in singles, winning by nine wickets with an over to spare.