Chennai Super Kings defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad at Indian Premier League 2019 clash at MA Chidambaram Stadium on Friday to regain top spot in the table. The hosts were asked to chase down 176 by Hyderabad. In reply, Shane Watson hammered 96 runs off 53 balls to hand his side a six-wicket win.
Chennai Super Kings won the toss and elected to field. The side made one change – Harbhajan Singh returned in place of Shardul Thakur. Sunrisers Hyderabad were forced to sit out Kane Williamson, who returned home due to personal reasons. Shakib Al Hasan returned in his stead. Manish Pandey also replaced Shahbaz Nadeem for SRH.
The immensely talented Manish Pandey was back in his element as his unbeaten 83 off 49 balls powered Sunrisers Hyderabad to a fighting 175 for 3 against Chennai Super Kings. Pandey and league’s current leading run-scorer David Warner (57 off 45 balls) added 115 runs for the second wicket to lay the foundation for a decent score on what was the best batting track on offer at the Chepauk.
Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh struck an early blow, having the in-form Jony Bairstow caught behind in the second over for a duck. He was the most successful bowler with figures of 2 for 39 in four overs while Deepak Chahar picked up the wicket of Vijay Shankar (26 off 20 balls).
Shane Watson brought back memories of last year’s IPL final with a blazing knock that has now almost ensured a play-off berth for Chennai Super Kings as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets. On a vastly improved Chepauk track, Watson roared back to form with an 96 off 53 balls as CSK stuttered a bit in end before winning in 19.5 overs. Watson’s innings studded with nine fours and half a dozen of sixes ensured that CSK have reached the cut-off limit of 16 points needed for the play-off even though they would like to finish in the top two.
Watson’s innings would also be a relief for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had urged the top order to finish matches. A 77-run stand between Watson and Suresh Raina (38) created the platform and the former Australia all-rounder singlehandedly decimated the Sunrisers attack. What made it more difficult for the Sunrisers was the fact that their strike bowler Rashid Khan was pulverised by Watson, who took him to the cleaners with 44 coming off his spell.
There were two game-changing overs during Chennai Super Kings’ chase. The first one was the 6th over from Sandeep Sharma. The pressure was building on the hosts after Faf du Plessis was run out. Suresh Raina decided to target the seamer and hammered four fours and a six in the over. The 22-run over shifted the momentum back to Chennai’s corner.
Another such over happened after Raina’s dismissal. The run rate was starting to slow down after Rashid Khan dismissed Raina. Shane Watson knew he had to release the pressure. He once again went after Sandeep Sharma and smashed two fours and a six in the over. In the process, he reached his half-century in 35 balls and also ensured CSK do not let the pressure build up too much like the previous game.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar: “I think it was a par score, but there was a bit of dew on the wicket. And the way Watson was going, we couldn’t do much. Anyone can have an off-day (speaking about Rashid), but it was the first off-day he had. Next three games out of four are away games, we really need to win those games to qualify for the playoffs. Captaincy gives me a lot of experience, it’s helped me mature as a player.”
MS Dhoni: “I think you can give individuals some games and the team gives them the rest. Watson has been a matchwinner for us. He has been batting well in the nets. Whatever small innings he played so far, he was middling them well although he did struggle a bit. This is the time when you need to back them. The management’s thinking was to give him as many games as possible. And the team winning also means that a player gets more games than he would actually get. It’s good to see different individuals step up every game. Nice to see our bowling department do well but would like our batting unit also get into the mode that’s necessary for the playoffs. If I tell everyone what it is, then they won’t buy me at the auctions. It’s a trade secret. The crowd support and franchise’s support are key of course. Huge credit has to also go to the support staff who play a huge role in keeping the team atmoshphere good for the team and other individuals. Other than this, I can’t reveal anything till I retire. It’s alright, not showing signs of getting worse. With the World Cup coming, I need to be careful as that comes first.”
Scorecard: Sunrisers Hyderabad (Pandey 83*, Warner 57; Harbhajan 2/39); Chennai Super Kings (Watson 96, ; Raina 38; Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1/18)