Classy Chennai steamroll Bangalore
Chennai Super Kings' big-name foreign players stepped up to get the campaign back on track after the opening-day reverse against Mumbai Indians. Matthew Hayden rolled back the years to crack a quick half-century, Muttiah Muralitharan put another nail in the coffin of the spinners-have-no-place-in-Twenty20 theory, and Andrew Flintoff sparkled with bat and ball to sink Bangalore Royal Challengers.
Bangalore may have revamped their side this year, but turned in a performance reminiscent of their dire showings last season. The batting has yet to fire in two games, and the bowling was clueless against the initial onslaught from Chennai's openers.
After a weekend when the bowlers mostly held sway, the Chennai openers staged a display of vintage Twenty20 batting to provide just the start MS Dhoni would have wanted after winning the toss. Hayden was at his bullying best, and the hallmarks of his batting were on view: the walk-down-the-track to club the quicks, the muscular sweeps against the spinners. There was plenty of finesse among the fireworks as well, gentle glides to third man, and some caressed drives through cover.
Jacques Kallis, surprisingly picked ahead of Jesse Ryder, bore the brunt of Hayden's hitting. His first three deliveries disappeared for boundaries, and Hayden rounded off the over with a blast over long-off for six, 20 runs in that fifth over had Chennai flying at 56 for 0.
Pietersen rang in the changes but they were to no avail. Vinay Kumar was taken for two fours in the next over, and part-timer Virat Kohli gifted a couple of fours in the seventh which had Hayden racing to his half-century.
Parthiv was not quite as fluent, always keen to throw his bat and loft towards midwicket. There were plenty of mishits while he attempted that stroke, but there was one glorious pull off Dale Steyn which sailed over the square-leg boundary. By the time the tactical time-out came around, Chennai had sprinted to 106 for 0.
Kevin Pietersen may have been paid the big bucks for his flamboyant batting and captaincy, but it was with his amiable offspinners that he made an impact. His first ball bowled Parthiv, who made a meal of a slog-sweep, and Hayden was run out by a direct hit from Rahul Dravid at point off the next delivery. Only eight runs came off the next three overs.
Suresh Raina and Dhoni played some sumptuous strokes, but there too many singles and dot balls to keep the run-rate at the stratospheric levels the openers had maintained. It was left to Flintoff to make a 13-ball 22, including a flat six over square-leg off Steyn, to push Chennai along.
The boundaries may have been brought in at St George's Park, but 180 was always going to be a tall order for Bangalore. Their experiment to open with Praveen Kumar failed when he was bowled in the first over.
Kallis started to make amends for his lacklustre bowling with some eye-catching strokes steering Bangalore to 40 for 1 after five overs. However, he perished when, after a Pietersen-esque jumps across the stumps, he missed a full ball from Morkel to be trapped lbw.The miserly Flintoff then struck, getting Ross Taylor when a wild swipe only went as far as the bowler.
Worse was to follow. Murali, bowling from round the wicket, trapped Pietersen for a duck with a straighter one, and the unconvincing Robin Uthappa was stumped after being drawn forward by a flighted delivery which dipped and turned. Bangalore had slid to 51 for 5, and the chase was shipwrecked.
With the asking-rate spiralling upwards, Bangalore set about throwing the bat around, and the inevitable indiscreet strokes had them bowled out for 87.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo