Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Chennai Super Kings 154 for 1 (Gaikwad 62*, du Plessis 48, Jordan 1-31) beat Kings XI Punjab 153 for 6 (Hooda, 62*, Ngidi 3-39, Jadeja 1-17) by nine wickets
After messing with the playoff chances of the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders, the already-ousted Chennai Super Kings took down the Kings XI Punjab along with them. The 23-year old Ruturaj Gaikwad, the second-youngest member in the Super Kings squad, provided another glimpse into their future with his third successive match-winning half-century in a chase. He calmly batted on around the more experienced Faf du Plessis, who was back from injury, and Ambati Rayudu, as the Super Kings knocked off a target of 154 and knocked out the Kings XI.
The Rajasthan Royals, the Knight Riders, the Sunrisers Hyderabad, the Delhi Capitals, and the Royal Challengers will tussle for the three playoff spots that are still up for grabs.
It was the Super Kings' bowlers who had set up the victory on a slow, low Abu Dhabi track that might have reminded them of Chepauk. Lungi Ngidi had the returning Mayank Agarwal chopping on with a cross-seamer and then knocked over KL Rahul with a slower dipping yorker that was straight out of Dwayne Bravo's playbook. Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja squeezed the Kings XI so much that they went nearly eight overs without a boundary following the powerplay. Deepak Hooda then got on top of the conditions and the Super Kings attack, cracking an unbeaten 62 off 30 balls, but it wasn't enough in the end for the Kings XI.
Rahul, Agarwal reunite at the top
Agarwal, who had been sidelined for the last three games with injury, marked his comeback with a first-ball four off Deepak Chahar. He hit four more fours off his next 13 balls before Ngidi foxed him. With Agarwal back, KL Rahul took more chances in the powerplay, swishing Chahar, Shardul Thakur and Ngidi for boundaries. The powerplay ended with Kings XI at 53 for 1, with Rahul and Agarwal scoring 26 each.
Ngidi then took pace off and removed Rahul as well, with the Kings XI slipping into a mid-innings comatose. Thakur hit a hard length and had Nicholas Pooran nicking off for 2 off six balls in the 11th over and Tahir trapped Chris Gayle for 12 off 19 balls with a skiddy legbreak. After having topped the wickets charts in IPL 2019 with 26 strikes, Tahir ended this season with a solitary wicket in three games.
The Kings XI then probably missed a trick by not promoting Jimmy Neesham ahead of Mandeep Singh to counter Ravindra Jadeja's left-arm fingerspin. After the two big-hitting left-hand batsmen Gayle and Pooran were dismissed, MS Dhoni drafted Jadeja into the attack, and he knocked over Singh with a 992kph arm ball. When Ngidi had Neesham holing out, the Kings XI innings was crying out for a finishing kick at 113 for 6 in 17.1 overs.
Hooda tees off
It was Hooda who gave that kick as the Kings XI took 40 off the last 17 balls. On a pitch where all the other Kings XI middle-order batsmen went at less than a run-a-ball, Hooda struck at over 200. After getting himself in with hard-run singles and doubles, he launched Tahir over extra-cover with the spin, clearing the bigger boundary.
He then lined up Ngidi, smashing him for 27 off a mere nine balls. The fast bowler's plan was to bowl wide yorkers, but he missed his lengths and Hooda punished him by repeatedly shuffling across off and hitting him cleanly through the line.
CSK sign off on a high
In their last fixture, against the Kings XI in Dubai, du Plessis kept hitting over the top in the early exchanges, allowing Shane Watson some breathing space at the other end. On Saturday, du Plessis reprised that role and claimed 31 of the 57 runs the Super Kings made in the powerplay.
Du Plessis' innings could have been cut short at 5 had Hooda hung on to a difficult catch running back from mid-on off Neesham. Du Plessis finally fell for 48 off 34 balls when Jordan ditched his on-pace balls for cutters and had the batsman scooping a catch behind to Rahul.
As for Gaikwad, he was middling balls, but he couldn't quite find the gaps. He was given out caught at point by Singh on 20, but TV umpire Chris Gaffaney overturned the on-field call after checking that the ball had momentarily touched the ground before Mandeep grabbed it.
It was Gaikwad who finished another chase, along with Rayudu, leaving the UAE with scores of 62*, 72 and 65* that gave him an average of 51 in the tournament, the best for a Super Kings player this season.
Fleming says rebuilding Super Kings will be 'great fun'
Head coach also explains why Gaikwad wasn't picked sooner and why Tahir played only three games all season
MS Dhoni 'definitely not' retiring from IPL
Chennai Super Kings captain though admits it is time to revamp the team's core
'The short run has come back to bite us very hard' - KL Rahul
"There's a lot of things to proud of as a team, so hopefully come back stronger next year and forget this year"
Talking Points: Why did Kings XI Punjab leave out Glenn Maxwell?
Also, why did the third umpire rule Mandeep Singh's low catch off Ruturaj Gaikwad not out?