Chennai Super Kings 107 for 4 (Ali 46, du Plessis 36*, Shami 2-21, ) beat Punjab Kings 106 for 8 (Shahrukh 47, Chahar 4-13) by six wickets
After four successive matches that swung wildly at the death for come-from-behind-wins, the Chennai Super Kings eased to a straightforward victory against the Punjab Kings, to notch their first points of IPL 2021.
A bowling masterclass led by Deepak Chahar dismantled the Kings top order, and there was no magic recovery this time. Chahar took out four of the Kings' top five, while the other man - KL Rahul - was run out. For a team structure heavily dependent on the top order to make the bulk of the runs, being 26 for 5 meant the end of the Kings' hopes in this game.
Chahar bowled a spectacular first spell, with MS Dhoni continuing to bowl him beyond the powerplay for all four overs in one stretch and he ended with 4 for 13, bowling an incredible 18 dot balls. It was left to Shahrukh Khan to show a glimpse of his muscular hitting capacity, with 47 off 36 from No. 6 to drag the team into three figures. The 106 for 8 they ended up with was still the lowest total for any team that has batted out its 20 overs at the Wankhede Stadium in the IPL.
The Super Kings had a good opportunity to beef up their net run rate. Moeen Ali, who scored 46 off 31, did exactly that, and although a two-in-two burst from Mohammed Shami then slowed the charge, the Super Kings still eased to victory in the 16th over for the loss of just four wickets.
Chahar strikes, Jadeja prowls
In the very first over, Chahar got one to curl past Mayank Agarwal's bat to knock out the off stump. Pitched on a length and curving away wickedly, it left Agarwal squared up, and would have probably accounted for most batters. He also got Chris Gayle two balls later but Ruturaj Gaikwad shelled a straightforward chance at backward point.
Two overs later, Rahul took off for a quick single from the non-striker's end when the ball had rolled off Gayle's pad to short cover, but he misjudged Jadeja's panther-like quickness in the field. Swooping down on the ball and rifling a direct hit in one smooth motion, Jadeja caught Rahul short even though the batter had taken a decent start.
Chahar was not to be denied Gayle's wicket either, and a knuckle ball did the No. 3 in, chipping a drive because he played it early. It was again towards cover and Jadeja was in the thick of it again, diving to his right to hold a good catch. For good measure, Chahar added Deepak Hooda's wicket in his final over, an awayswinger being lobbed tamely to mid-off. His final over ended up a wicket maiden, and with seven overs bowled, the Kings were going at less than four an over with all of their main batters back in the hut at 26 for 5.
Shahrukh strikes at Wankhede
He had walked into the middle in just the fifth over, and as the last recognised batter remaining, Khan could afford to just play and not bother about the scoreboard. If the Kings were going to get anything defendable, it was all on him, so he could pace his innings his own way. With Chahar bowled out, batting became a mite easier too, and Khan muscled the ball to the fence whenever he was given width. He fell in the final over, missing out on a maiden IPL fifty, but he had ensured the team wouldn't be bowled out and would cross 100.
Moeen leads the way in the chase
The Super Kings stuck to their opening combination of Gaikwad with Faf du Plessis, who both were circumspect against some sharp new-ball bowling. With the target so low though, it didn't matter even though Gaikwad fell in the powerplay. Ali's association with du Plessis yielded 66 runs in 7.3 overs for the second wicket, and there was no way the Super Kings were losing after that. Ali had begun to find the boundary with trademark fluency right from when he walked in, in the sixth over, while du Plessis was content to hold his end up. Ali fell before he could get to his fifty, flat-batting M Ashwin to deep midwicket. There was a minor moment of drama when Shami got both Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu off successive balls, but victory was only a formality by then.
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo