Du Plessis fifty, Dhoni late surge take CSK to 160 despite Ashwin’s 3/23
MS Dhoni took 19 runs off the penultimate over of the innings. (BCCI Image)

Faf du Plessis‘ half-century, aided by MS Dhoni‘s late assault lifted Chennai Super Kings to a competitive 160/3 against Kings XI Punjab on Saturday. Dhoni arrived at the crease in the 14th over, after KXIP captain R Ashwin had finished a fine spell of 3 for 23, and after stuttering initially, the CSK skipper, along with Ambati Rayudu, took 44 off the last three overs. (READ: Match Highlights)

Playing his first game of the season, du Plessis opened the innings alongside Shane Watson and the pair provided CSK a rollicking start by putting 56 runs. Mohammed Shami and Ashwin bowled two tidy over upfront before Watson and du Plessis took charge. The South Africa captain scored two fours and a six off Shami’s second over, and welcomed Andrew Tye with an 18-run over, with both du Plessis and Watson taking the fast bowler for a six each.

Du Plessis’s assault allowed Watson to play himself in. Having scored heavily off the pacers, he drilled Ashwin down the ground for a six and reached his half-century off 33 balls. CSK raced to 54 without loss at the end of Powerplay, their best start of the season so far.

It was from here that KXIP staged an inspiring comeback. The spinners tied CSK down, and with Murugan Ashwin bowling a disciplined spell of none for 23 from his four overs, his captain Ashwin reaped the benefits. Watson not his fluent self, went for a slog sweep and holed out to Sam Curran at deep square leg.

Ashwin the bowled the over of the innings. With Suresh Raina and du Plessis forming a crucial alliance of 44, Ashwin struck twice in two balls to dismiss both set batsmen. A carrom ball had du Plessis miscue a slog sweep and was taken by David Miller at long-on. Next delivery, Raina went for the leg side heave and was castled by the KXIP skipper. CSK 100 for 3, Ashwin on a hat-trick, KXIP right back in it.

Going 32 deliveries without a boundary, Dhoni provided the crowed reasons to cheer, taking Curran on in the 19th over. Having struck his first boundary off Tye in the previous over, KXIP’s hero from the previous was subjected to a severe beating from the CSK skipper, who took the allrounder for 19 runs off the penultimate over – a six and two boundaries. The final over was no different with Dhoni smoking Shami for a six and a boundary off the first three balls.

Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings 160 for 3 (Faf du Plessis 59, MS Dhoni 37*; R Ashwin 3 for 23) against Kings XI Punjab.