Shane Watson (83 n.o., 53b, 11×3, 3×6) and the in-form Faf du Plessis (87 n.o., 53b, 11×4, 1×6) pummelled Kings XI Punjab into submission to lead Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a thumping ten-wicket win at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.
Chasing KXIP’s competitive 179-run target, CSK emerged victorious with 14 balls to spare and snapped its three-match losing streak.
The three-time champion will finally be relieved to have Watson back in form after a sedate start to the tournament. The Australian looked in good touch from the beginning, leaning into drives and clearing the in-field with ease.
At the other end, du Plessis cut loose when he went after Chris Jordan, hitting him for four boundaries to help CSK finish the PowerPlay with the score reading 60.
The duo did not allow the left-arm spinner Harpreet Brar and leggie Ravi Bishnoi to settle, employing the sweep shot effectively to find boundaries at will.
Watson then hit three boundaries and a six in quick succession to race towards his first half-century of the season. He welcomed Jordan back into the attack with two consecutive boundaries to get to the mark, while du Plessis got to his, three balls later. They went on to stitch together a 181-run association — CSK’s highest for any wicket in the IPL — to flatten the Kings.
Earlier, K.L. Rahul once again led from the front with a half-century (63, 52b, 7×4, 1×6) to help Punjab post 178. He was assisted by some brutal hitting from Nicholas Pooran at the back end of the innings – a 33-run cameo off just 17 balls.
Laying the foundation
Electing to bat, Rahul and Mayank Agarwal laid the foundation for a challenging score with a 61-run opening-wicket stand. Rahul was not at his fluent best but still produced some glorious cuts and drives when allowed to free his arms.
After being watchful in the middle overs, Rahul launched into Shardul Thakur in the 15th over, scoring 14 off it to get to his half-century.
At the other end, Pooran went berserk, hitting a four and six off Jadeja’s final over, before picking two more maximums of Curran and Bravo. Shardul, however, removed both Pooran and Rahul off successive deliveries at the start of the 18th over, helping keep the target within CSK’s reach.