A sublime knock by skipper KL Rahul ensured that Punjab Kings chased down Chennai Super Kings’ target with seven overs to spare on Thursday at the Dubai International Stadium. That performance keeps Punjab hopes alive to get through to the playoffs in the 2021 VIVO Indian Premier League, if other results go their way.
Bowling first, Mohammed Shami and co. did well to restrict the dynamic CSK duo to just 13 runs off the first three overs. That start was perfectly capitalised by Arshdeep Singh, as his bouncer got the better of Ruturaj Gaikwad.
The left-arm pacer picked up a second wicket shortly after, inducing an edge off Moeen Ali’s bat which fell straight into Rahul’s palms. Faf Du Plessis however added a couple of fours in that same over to ensure Chennai ended the powerplay at 30/2.
Chris Jordan got into the act post the powerplay, as he tricked new man Robin Uthappa into playing a false shot, which was gobbled up by a running Harpreet Brar in the deep. The Englishman picked up a second scalp in his next over, this time getting Ambati Rayudu to chip one into the air.
Chennai captain MS Dhoni though came out with positive intent, as he smacked Ravi Bishnoi for two boundaries on the off side. The young leggie however came roaring back, as his googly completely foxed the former Indian captain, who saw the stumps behind him totally mangled, leaving the team score at 61/5 after 12.
Boundaries continued to be difficult to come by for the batting side, as they could only manage five fours in the ten overs post the powerplay. Moises Henriques and Harpreet Brar also kept a tight lid on the scoring rate, as CSK could only get to 86/5 after 16 overs.
Faf Du Plessis however got a move on in the final four overs, as he hit Chris Jordan for two fours in his penultimate over, getting to his fifth fifty of the season. The South African batter followed that up with a huge six off Arshdeep’s bowling, as the team score climbed to 118/5 with an over to spare.
The 37-year-old added another four and six in the final over against Shami as well, but fell on the third ball top edged one to the keeper. However, that late cameo ensured Chennai Super Kings ended with a competitive score of 134/6.
KL Rahul picked up two fours and a six in the third over of the chase, and did not slow down one bit from that moment on to ensure PBKS cruised through to a win.
In reply, Punjab Kings went on the attack from the get go as KL Rahul picked up a couple of boundaries in the very first over. The Punjab skipper added his first six of the day shortly after, with Mayank Agarwal also getting into his groove with a four over mid-wicket to push the team score to 27/0 after three overs.
Rahul showed no signs of slowing down, as he pummelled Josh Hazlewood for two fours and a six over square leg in his second over, getting the team score up to 42 after four overs. Shardul Thakur though got CSK back in the contest, as he dismissed Mayank Agarwal and new man Sarfaraz Khan in his very first over.
Despite the wickets, Rahul decided to take on Thakur in his second over, hitting him for a four and a six. New man Shahrukh Khan also got into the act, hitting a big six over long-on against Ravindra Jadeja. The next over also proved expensive, as Rahul tonked one over square leg off Chahar’s bowling. Shahrukh however was out caught in the deep when he tried a big shot against the Indian pacer, leaving the score at 80/3 after nine.
The scoring rate remained high as new man Aiden Markram smacked one over deep mid-wicket off just his second ball. Rahul also added more sixes in the forthcoming overs, as he picked up a six off Chahar’s final over and two maximums off Dwayne Bravo’s bowling to reduce the equation to single digits with eight overs to spare.
Shardul Thakur returned to the attack and claimed the wicket of Markram, delaying the win by a bit. Rahul though ended things in that very over, hitting a four and a six to end at 98* and ensure Punjab Kings won with seven overs to spare.