For all practical purposes, it was over even before it began. The coin came down in favour of MS Dhoni, and he made Kings XI Punjab sweat in the sweltering 4pm Chennai heat. No reason why he ought to have been a gracious host - after all, the trend over the past six seasons has been clear. Till Thursday, Chennai Super Kings had won 26 of their 44 home matches. Take only the early evening starters into consideration, and that ratio improves drastically - to eight wins in 10 games.
Perhaps in a rush to leave nothing to chance, Dhoni decided to tempt fate, and chance rather his legs, against the arms of the one of the best fielders around.Brilliant fielding
Racing after the ball from the bowling crease, R Sathish completed a neat slide, pick up and throw. Result: the CSK skipper did not live up to the raucous reception of the partisan sea of yellow that inadvertently cheered Mike Hussey as he walked back to the pavilion moments after he had gained the Orange Cap.
At the other end, though, was a man who has been flitting in and out of national reckoning, but someone without whom India's domestic T20 league cannot really be envisaged. Thursday's match was Super Kings' 93rd in the league; Suresh Raina has featured in 92, the only miss being a rain-abandoned match in South Africa four years ago. Coming into this match, Raina was the only batsman to have amassed more than 2500 runs in the league.
While he did not spare his UP Ranji teammates Piyush Chawla and Praveen Kumar, Raina reserved the more extreme treatment for two bowlers with a Super Kings connect, Manpreet Gony and David Hussey.
But Raina almost undid the good with the ball. With the required rate for Punjab having just crossed 13 an over, his part-time offbreaks were twice sent over and then across the long-off boundary by Shaun Marsh off consecutive deliveries. Thus began Marsh and David Miller's fightback, one that seemed progressively plausible.
In the end, the difference was Raina in the field, Dwayne Bravo's last over heroics with the ball.