Chennai Super Kings wound up their UAE engagements with another win fashioned by their niggardly bowling performance and their explosive opening batsmen. The comfortable five-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad got Chennai to four wins on the bounce after the loss in their opener, while Hyderabad are now only one place off the bottom after four games.
Hyderabad once again suffered from having a top-heavy but misfiring batting lineup with Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner and Aaron Finch, the top three for the side, struggling once more. Chennai’s Ben Hilfenhaus had Dhawan and Warner in the hut in the same over, the third of the innings, meaning that Finch had to drop anchor and ensure the side did not suffer further damage. Along with Lokesh Rahul, Finch (44 off 45 balls) added a ponderous 52 off 47 balls. It was already the 11th over and Hyderabad were going at just a run a ball but the new batsman Venugopal Rao (13 off 15 balls) could hardly improve the run rate. Finally, it was down to Darren Sammy (23 off 15) and Karn Sharma (17 off 7) to even help the side to a par 145/5 in 20 overs.
For Chennai, Ashwin was his usual economic self, going for just 17 runs in his four overs while Mohit Sharma (2/27 in four overs) continued his good tournament. He is currently Chennai’s top wicket-taker, with eight scalps in five games.
The mediocre target was not one to pose Chennai any questions and the task was made easier by the roaring form of the openers Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum. The batsman, having been brought by Chennai after disposing of a fairly successful Michael Hussey-Murali Vijay combine that has stood them in good stead over the years, has been an immediate success. On Sunday, Smith smoked a typically belligerent 46-ball 66 while McCullum chipped in with a 33-ball 40 to make small work of the target.
The openers put on 85 for the first wicket in 10.5 overs, bringing the target down to around a run a ball for the rest of the innings with nine wickets in hand. Chennai sleep walked through the rest of the innings, losing Suresh Raina, Faf du Plessis and Ravindra Jadeja for next to nothing but still coasting to a win with five wickets to spare.
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Hyderabad have one of the better records defending smallish targets (they have successfully defended a target of 150 or less four times out of seven), which is mainly due to their potent bowling attack which includes the likes of Dale Steyn and Amit Mishra. But this time, both the bowlers went wicketless, as Chennai played them out and instead, targeted the likes of Ishant Sharma (37/2 in four overs) and Karn Sharma (1/35 in four overs) to get the required runs. It was just Bhuvneshwar Kumar that gave some measure of control for Hyderabad, picking up a wicket while going at under a run a ball, but in the absence of support from the other end, Chennai were comfortable winners though the game went into the final over.
Brief scores: Hyderabad 145/5 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 44 off 45 balls, Lokesh Rahul 25 off 27 balls; Ben Hilfenhaus 2/32, Mohit Sharma 2/27) lost to Chennai 146/5 in 19.3 overs (Dwayne Smith 66 off 46 balls, Brendon McCullum 40 off 33 balls; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2/23, Ishant Sharma 2/37) by five wickets.