MS Dhoni rolled back the years once again to produce a brilliant exhibition of batting against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) but failed to take his side over the finishing line in a tense last-over finish in Mohali on Sunday. Riding high on Chris Gayle’s quickfire 63, KXIP set a target of 198 and seemed firmly in control of the match. However, the complexion of the game changed in the last five overs when Dhoni, who recorded his highest IPL score of 79*, went ballistic and took the attack to the Punjab bowlers. With 67 needed in the last four overs, it was always going to be an uphill task but ‘captain cool’ upped the ante and battling a lower back injury almost managed to win the game. For R Ashwin it was sweet revenge as he got one over his former franchise.
Earlier, after the winning toss, Dhoni invited the opposition to bat first on a track which seemed perfect for batting. After getting off to a steady start it was Chris Gayle who launched a blistering assault on the opposition and blasted a 22-ball 50. At the halfway mark it seemed KXIP were on course for a total of above 200 but Imran Tahir and Shardul Thakur picked up crucial wickets to put the breaks on the run rate. Late strikes Karun Nair ensured that KXIP ends with 197 on board.
In reply, Chennai lost early wickets but kept at par with the run rate. However, the introduction of Mujeeb Ur Rahman did the trick as he stemmed the flow of runs along with skipper R Ashwin. With the run rate climbing up, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni took the attack to the bowlers but an untimely run-out of Rayudu put CSK on the backfoot again. With 55 needed in the last three overs, it seemed all was lost but fighting injury concerns Dhoni began an onslaught which was a throwback to his yesteryears. However, it too little too late as CSK fell short of the target by 4 runs.