McCullum, spinners take CSK to No. 1
Brendon McCullum was at the forefront of a cavalier batting approach as Chennai Super Kings posted a total substantial enough to take them to No. 1 in the league
Brendon McCullum was at the forefront of a cavalier batting approach, the Kings XI Punjab bowling and fielding withering under his charge, as Chennai Super Kings posted a total substantial enough to take them to No. 1 in the league. The 97-run victory brought them level with Rajasthan Royals on ten points, but ahead on net run rate with a game in hand. Kings XI, on the other hand, slipped below Mumbai Indians to the bottom of the competition.
These two teams had played each other three times in the 2014 season and on every occasion Kings XI had made more than 200 to beat Super Kings. This time, however, without Glenn Maxwell who was dropped because George Bailey returned as captain, Kings XI were restricted to their second lowest 20-over score in eight IPL seasons. They stumbled to 95 for 9 as the Super Kings' rejuvenated spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin shared five wickets for 36 runs in eight overs after an ordinary start to the tournament.
From the moment Dwayne Smith flayed the first ball of the game from legspinner Karanveer Singh to the cover boundary, Super Kings were always on top of the contest. It was the beginning of an opening stand of 50 in 4.4 overs, during which Smith waylaid Karanveer for 22 in an over and McCullum smacked Sandeep Sharma around.
McCullum was dropped by Mitchell Johnson on 21, and made Kings XI pay, slashing and pulling to 66 off 44 balls. He had got to his fifty - 32 balls - with two pulls off Johnson: the first not perfectly timed to the midwicket boundary, the second superbly pulled over deep square leg. By the time he was dismissed, Super Kings had got to 116 in 12.1 overs.
McCullum had added 66 for the second wicket with Suresh Raina, who had two bits of good fortune. The first was on 8 when umpire Johan Cloete didn't see an edge to the wicketkeeper, and the second was on 13 when Johnson put down another catch. Raina didn't punish Kings XI as severely as McCullum did, but after his exit MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja, who were sent in ahead of Dwayne Bravo and Faf du Plessis, finished the innings with a 48-run stand in 28 deliveries.
Super Kings had looked on course for more than 200 at one stage, but their total of 192 was a formidable one.
The Kings XI chase was a procession. Virender Sehwag chipped Ishwar Pandey to mid-off in the first over, and Shaun Marsh was trapped lbw by Ashish Nehra in the sixth. With the score 39 for 2, Dhoni brought on his spinners after the fielding restrictions and Jadeja and Ashwin ended the contest.
Jadeja dismissed Bailey and Miller in single digits in his first two overs, and Ashwin got M Vijay and Axar Patel in his second and third. That left Kings XI 66 for 6 and sinking irrevocably.
Dhoni called the victory, "one of the most convincing wins we've ever had in all IPLs."
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo