When the Chennai Super Kings made a visit to Mohali in the last edition of the IPL,they were in a must-win situation,and even that would not have guaranteed them a place in the second phase of the tournament. However,Kings XI Punjab delivered what ought to have been the knock out blow for the defending champions when their pacers had CSK in all kinds of trouble on a green track. CSK lost the game and it took a crazy combination of results to book their progress.
However,the recipe for success for the home side was clear. KXIPs pace battery is quite useful,with the likes of Praveen Kumar,Parvinder Awana,Ryan Harris and Azhar Mahmood capable of troubling the batsmen on a helpful wicket. Added to that,Chennais bowling combination looks pretty unsettled,with new recruits Dirk Nannes,Ankit Rajpoot and Chris Morris leading the lines. So all KXIP had to do was to roll out the green carpet.
The side seem to have missed the trick this time around. Michael Hussey,on the microphone between overs,said that the wicket was rather strange,with grass on one side and shaved on the other. Even the grass was not the kind that helped the pacers too much and all the track did was offer good carry. It meant that KXIPs advantages were minimised and CSKs batting would thrive.
Despite that KXIP,who were inserted after losing the toss,were in with a chance well into the first innings. Though openers Adam Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh were dismissed in the same Nannes over,the third of the innings,Manan Vohra,David Hussey and Gurkeerat Singh kept the scoreboard ticking along very nicely.
Despite the double strike early on,Vohra and Hussey did not hold back,hitting at least a boundary of an over for the next four,until the former hit a Ravindra Jadeja long hop straight to Hussey at cow corner.
Hussey took over from Vohra and by now the spinners,Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin,were on at both ends. The pair stayed together for seven overs,adding 56 runs. At the end of 14 overs,KXIP were 106 for three and with a reasonable chance of hitting 160 or more.
Losing the plot
Around this point,KXIP lost the plot. It started with Husseys dismissal,deceived by Ashwins carrom ball. The right hander came down the track but the bowlers variation meant that Hussey could only slice the ball to Dwayne Bravo in the deep at long off. Hussey had compiled 41 off 36 balls and ended up the top scorer for the side.
Right when the acceleration was supposed to arrive,Punjab began losing wickets in a heap. Bravos variations in pace and length kept the new batsmen,who were intent on slogging,guessing. The medium pacer ended the day with three wickets. KXIPs batting order doesnt go deep and they were to pay for it. KXIP lost their last five wickets for 11 runs.
Chennais chase was measured and clinical. Hussey and Murali Vijay knew the target was not demanding and they could afford to play themselves in. Though KXIP were busy in the field,throwing themselves around impressively,when the moment came for them to capitalise on the pressure,they were found wanting.
CSK were 38/0 after six overs,and in the next,it looked like the home side had achieved the breakthrough. Hussey hit the ball straight to mid off and took Harris,the fielder,on. The direct hit looked like it had caught Husseys dive short,but the third umpire inexplicable ruled the batsman not out. It would not have mattered had Piyush Chawla managed to hold on to a simple caught and bowled chance seven deliveries later. Two balls later,Vijay who charged the same bowler,was left stranded,only for Adam Gilchrist to fluff another easy chance.
Reprieved,CSKs batsmen never looked back. Hussey forced the pace,while Vijay hung back,accumulating the singles. With 65 needed from 48 balls,the batsmen cut loose,in an attempt to get their net run rate up. Harris 13th over went for three boundaries Rajagopalan Sathishs 16th went for 16 runs. It was all soon over,with Hussey finishing things off in a canter,hitting two fours and two sixes in his last ten balls. Hussey finished unbeaten on 86,Vijay on 50 and the match ended with close to three overs still left.