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Despite Glenn Maxwell’s blitz in Chennai Super Kings’ last encounter against Kings XI Punjab, Mahendra Singh Dhoini still chose to bat first. However, opener Brendon McCullum could not reproduce an aggressive knock. He tried to unsettle left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, but first JP Duminy dropped him at short cover but the next ball flew to third man off the outside edge, to Wayne Parnell.
CSK had been dealt a massive blow after Caribbean all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was ruled out of the tournament due to the shoulder injury he suffered while fielding in Friday’s opening encounter. So, it was crucial they found the men who would set it up for the bowlers.
Suresh Raina and Dwayne Smith went about accumulating runs for a few overs after McCullum fell and by the end of power play overs, CSK had reached only 34/1. And when left-arm Shabaz Nadeem bowled Smith with an arm ball, Daredevils had gained an even firmer grip.
But CSK have always acknowledged Raina’s value. And the left-hander this time played the waiting game. And that was until, the ball was thrown to Murali Vijay, who was bought by DD this season after Chennai let him go. Raina cover drove, cut through point and then swept him fine to pick three boundaries as the over cost 13 runs. There was no looking back for CSK as Raina completed a 35-ball fifty. Vijay did eventually catch Raina at long-on but that would have come as little comfort.
And the most action packed overs were between 16 and 20. Dhoni and Faf du Plessis blasted away boundaries and sixes. Simply from the point of view of distance and height, the six of the evening came from Dhoni’s bat, punching Unadkat into the sky and over long-on. Runs and boundaries came in a torrent, interspersed with wickets, but CSK had raised a formidable total.
With Kevin Pietersen still nursing his finger injury, the job was cut out for Daredevils. Last year, despite the presence of many big-hitters in their line-up, DD repeatedly caved in to finish last. And the lack of consistency was evident on Monday.
It was Ishwar Pandey who began the slide. Controversially kept out of any international game on the New Zealand tour, he was the go-to man for the same skipper, and delivered with two wickets.
And Ravichandran Ashwin virtually finished off the game in the 13th over when Daredevils’ stand-in skipper, Dinesh Karthik, the off-spinner’s Tamil Nadu team mate no less, had no clue to the carrom ball that took the middle stump. And CSK wrapped it up with about five overs left.