MS Dhoni’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss paid off well for the two-time champions as their bowlers kept making breakthroughs at regular intervals to deny the Punjab batsmen chances to get going.
Dwayne Bravo impressed with the figures of 4-0-27-3 while the debutant Chris Morris and Dirk Nannes bagged two wickets each to help Chennai take the upperhand in the game.
Mandeep Singh started off on a positive note as he cracked a boundary through the covers on the first ball of the game, and followed up with a few sharp singles to put pressure on the fielding side.
Adam Gilchrist had a shaky start — a delivery off Ankit Rajpoot took a thick edge and flew past the gully area to the boundary. The Punjab skipper didn’t look in great touch.
The Super Kings bounced back soon as Dirk Nannes’s twin strikes rocked the Kings XI in the third over of the innings. Michael Hussey then took a splendid catch at the deep leg gully to dismiss Gilchrist for nine in the third over of the innings.
Nannes put more pressure on the opponents on the fifth delivery to jolt Punjab once again, bagging the key wicket of Mandeep for nine. The right-handed Punjab batsman mistimed a hook shot and Dwayne Bravo took an easy catch to leave the hosts struggling at 20 for two after three overs.
The in-form Manan Vohra joined forces with the senior batsman David Hussey to take Punjab ahead, as the two steadied their innings. Vohra played few attacking shots when he got to the middle in a bid to keep the pressure off the Punjab side. He added 30 runs in 25 balls with Hussey to lead Punjab’s recovery, and it looked like this partnership could set the pace for a big total.
But Chennai’s star all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja had other plans as he struck on the last delivery of the seventh over to dismiss Vohra, getting him caught by Michael Hussey to leave the hosts struggling at 50 for three.
David Hussey was left with the responsibility of keeping Punjab afloat, and he did a decent job with the young Gurkeerat Singh Mann to set a platform for a competitive first innings total.
Gurkeerat and David Hussey batted sensibly to keep the Chennai bowlers at bay, and put up a crucial 56-run stand for the fourth wicket which took Punjab past the 100-run mark.
It was on the first ball of the 15th over when Chennai Super Kings got a breakthrough, as David Hussey found Bravo at long-off in a bid to clear the ropes. Hussey cracked four boundaries and a hit over the fence to score a fluent 41 off 36 balls.
Gurkeerat fell soon after, as he went for a sweep shot off Bravo from outside of the off-stump. The ball took the top edge and flew towards short fine leg to land into Nannes’s safe hands. Punjab were 116 for five.
The lower order failed to make significant contributions and Punjab’s hopes of a total above 150 were dashed when Azhar Mahmood fell for eight.
Brief Scores: Kings XI Punjab 138 all-out in 19.5 overs (David Hussey 41, Gurkeerat Singh Mann 31; Dwayne Bravo 3 for 27, Dirk Nannes 2 for 17) vs Chennai Super Kings.
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or talk about the sport. Having played the game at club and college level, he now pursues his passion as a scribe)