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By Bharath Ramaraj
Apr 18, 2014
In the third game of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 played between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) at Abu Dhabi, CSK won the toss and elected to bat. The track as expected was flat. CSK took advantage of it and went onto aggregate 205 for the loss of four wickets off their allotted 20 overs.
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum opened the batting for CSK. Surprisingly, KXIP didn’t open the bowling with the express left-arm fast bowler, Mitchell Johnson. It perhaps was due to the fact that Johnson tends to struggle with the white new ball. It certainly didn’t help KXIP, as McCullum took a heavy toll on Parvinder Awana. Actually, to bowl back of a length to McCullum was never going to be a good strategy, as he is very strong on the back-foot. Unfortunately, including Johnson, KXIP continued to test middle of the pitch against him. Some of those short-arm pulls McCullum essayed were shots of the highest class.
Smith followed in McCullum’s footsteps by playing a few fine strokes himself. Smith showcased his ability to play through the off-side with an eye-catching back-foot punch for a six off Johnson over third-man region. Here is a cricketer who has surely improved his game on the off-side. KXIP didn’t help themselves with the captain, George Bailey dropping a catch off McCullum.
McCullum reached his fifty off just 30 balls. Incidentally, it has been six years since he thwacked a superb knock of 158 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2008.
Once CSK erected a solid platform by scoring 70 runs in the power-play, it was always going to be a difficult task for KXIP to comeback into the game. In fact, in an attempt to stem the run flow, KXIP’s skipper Bailey tried Glenn Maxwell’s off-spin. Pacers tried to mix up their pace by bowling a few slower ones too, but nothing seemed to work.
McCullum finally lost his wicket when he tried a short-arm pull off Akshar Patel, the left-arm spinner and was caught by Maxwell at deep mid-wicket region. Once McCullum got out, Smith took over by playing shots in the end overs. He reached his fifty with a boundary. Suresh Raina coming into bat at No 3 position played an able hand during the final overs of the game. KXIP’s plight could be best explained by their spearhead Johnson being hit all over the park. KXIP think-tank though, would feel that they are still in the game, as the track should stay true for the entire duration of the match.
Chennai Super Kings 205 for 4 in 20 overs (Dwayne Smith 66, Brendon McCullum 67; Akshar Patel 1 for 34) vs Kings XI Punjab.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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