It wasn’t much of the contest at the end as CSK dictated terms to Kings XI Punjab in their last IPL fixture. KXIP must be more relieved than disappointed as they had already gone out of the play-off race. After a bombastic performance last year, when they had finished runners-up to Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens, the script for KXIP in IPL 2015 went haywire. They did win a few matches but couldn’t rise to occasions through the tournament. With Glenn Maxwell failing throughout and others turning up mediocre batting display, it remained a sad narrative for them, match after match. On Saturday, KXIP batted first after winning the toss and began losing wickets straightaway. By the 14th over, six batsmen had returned to their dungeons for just 78 on the board. If it was not for a late fight by Axar Patel and Rishi Dhawan, KXIP could have shamed themselves further with an even lower score than 130/7 that they finally made. Coming back next, Chennai also stuttered and lost 2 big wickets of Michael Hussey and Brendon McCullum by the second over. But they had Faf du Plessis, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, who took them to a 7-wicket victory with 19 balls remaining.
Kings Eleven Punjab has had a bad season that followed one of their best last year. It was sad that batting let them down in 2015 despite the presence of powerful international names. On Saturday, George Bailey won the toss and decided to try his luck with the bat for the last time. KXIP had nothing to gain from the match except salvaging some lost prestige but Punjab’s victory could have proved alarming for CSK. In the bright Mohali sunshine, KXIP began quite well with Wriddhiman Saha striking well from the start. Saha was KXIP’s star performer in the match against RCB that Punjab won. However, the early promise didn’t last long as Saha fell in the third over, when he tried to lift Negi out of the ground. It was a loopy delivery and Saha only managed to lob a tame catch for McCullum in the covers. Bailey had come out one-drop after Saha but he lasted just 7 balls for his 12 runs, when Ashish Nehra bowled one across to Bailey, who nicked it through to the wicketkeeper. The slide had begun for KXIP as Manan Vohra fell to Ishwar Pandey, slicing the bowler for a straightforward catch at third man. Gurkeerat Singh was next to get out in trying to lift his side out of trouble. He started well by scoring a boundary of Ravichandran Ashwin but when he stepped out to Ashwin next, he missed the ball and MS Dhoni completed a simple stumping. The wickets kept tumbling as Glen Maxwell fell to Ravindra Jadeja and David Miller followed him next. In the 14th over, Kings XI were reduced to 78/6. It was pitch full of runs but the KXIP top order still crumbled because of irresponsible play. There was some face-saving however, when Axar Patel and Rishi Dhawan put on a stand of 44 runs. They crossed the 100-run mark and went on to finish at 130/7 despite Axar Patel falling in the 19th over from Dwayne Bravo that was blasted for 14 runs.
131-run for victory was a rather easy chase for CSK but the openers didn’t last long. Michael Hussey opened the batting with Brendon McCullum but fell to the last ball of Sandeep Sharma’s first over. McCullum also fell to Beuran Hendricks, when he shaped for a back-foot punch but ended up playing on through an inside edge 10/2 in the second over was bad omen for CSK but they had Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina, who added 92 for the third wicket and the score reached 102, when du Plessis was clean-bowled by Rishi Dhawan. By this time, CSK had reached a position, from where they couldn’t lose. MS Dhoni joined Raina and the two carried CSK to victory in the 17th over.
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