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Rediff.com  » Sports » Chennai beat Punjab to finish second

Chennai beat Punjab to finish second

By Rediff cricket
Last updated on: May 21, 2009 00:28 IST
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Scorecard

An exceptional bowling performance helped Chennai Super Kings make up for a sordid batting effort and thrash Kings XI Punjab by 24 runs in a low-scoring Indian Premier League match at Kingsmead, Durban, on Wednesday. The victory assured them second place in the league table.

Chasing a modest 117 to win, Punjab crashed to 92 for eight, the defeat dashing their hopes of a last four berth, though, mathematically, they still have a slim chance.

Muttiah Muralitharan (4-0-8-2), eventually named the man of the match, R Ashwin (4-0-13-2), Suresh Raina (4-0-17-2) and Thilan Thushara (4-0-28-2) all delivered with the ball to ensure their team avoids table toppers Delhi Daredevils in the semi-finals.

Chennai, with 17 points from their 14 matches, would have progressed to the semi-finals (on better net run rate) even if they had lost to Punjab, but that would have meant a fourth place finish in the table (and a meeting with Delhi).

Going into the match, Chennai had witnessed quite a few ups and downs in their fortunes (read performances). Their run of five successive wins ended with a defeat at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore in Durban. They responded by beating Mumbai Indians in Port Elizabeth, a result that downed curtains for Sachin Tendulkar's side in the competition.

However, in their previous match, they suffered their fifth defeat of the tournament against Kolkata, when the latter chased 189 successfully.

Statistics favoured Chennai, though, as Punjab hadn't beaten them in any of their four games prior to the Durban tie.

While they tried thrice sans success in the inaugural season, they did come close in their match at Centurion only to be denied by Suresh Raina's tidy bowling.

To their credit, Punjab came back strong since that defeat, winning three of their last four matches.

And they had at least one statistic that favoured them. Chennai hadn't won a game in Durban, having lost all three -- to Delhi, Hyderabad and Bangalore respectively.

However, Chennai finally managed to break its jinx at the venue and since this was the last match at Kingsmead, they ensured they finished on a winning note.

Punjab could ill afford to lose this match as their semi-final aspirations hinged on a win. However, as it turned out, they failed to cope up with the pressure.

Earlier, good bowling, coupled with some irresponsible batting, enabled Punjab to restrict Chennai to a paltry 116.

Irfan Pathan (4-0-32-2) and S Sreesanth (4-0-23-2) were the pick of the Punjab bowlers while their Australian spearhead Brett Lee (4-0-16-0) was impressive yet again, giving away just three runs in his final two overs.

The bane of the Chennai innings was their inability to forge a steady partnership that could have ensured their total a semblance of respectability.

Chennai innings:

Punjab skipper Yuvraj Singh called incorrectly and his Chennai counterpart Mahendra Singh Dhoni had no hesitation in opting to bat first.

Chennai had three changes in their starting line-up, with Albie Morkel, Shadab Jakati and Sudeep Tyagi making way for R Ashwin, Manpreet Gony and Thilan Thushara.

The finalists last year made a confident start, with 35 runs coming of the first four overs, with Irfan conceding 22 runs of his opening two overs.

More importantly, from the Chennai point of view, most of their runs came in boundaries.

George Bailey (15/12), looking confident again after his 26-ball 30 against Kolkata, helped himself to three boundaries – two of Lee (both wide of third man) and one of Irfan (towards fine leg).

Parthiv Patel (32/23) also put his foot on the accelerator, helping himself with a couple of boundaries of Irfan, both through the midwicket, and then clearing the same area (of the same bowler) for a maximum.

Chennai's aggressive start compelled Yuvraj to introduce spin (Ramesh Powar) inside the Powerplay (in the fifth over) and Parthiv greeted him by guiding his second ball for a boundary over point.

However, three balls later Punjab managed their first breakthrough, a direct hit from Yuvraj finding Bailey well short of his ground.

The Australian was unfortunate for a second successive time, failing to cash in on a confident start.

Raina (20/21) got a reprieve of the first ball he faced (of S Sreesanth), Piyush Chawla spilling the catch at cover point and then watching the ball race away to the boundary.

However, Parthiv, who looked in good touch throughout his innings, dragged a Powar delivery onto his stumps to give Punjab their second success.

And in the final over before the strategic time out, S Sreesanth made a double breakthrough to ensure Punjab remained up front midway through.

S Badrinath (4/9), in an attempt to pull a short one over midwicket, mistimed his shot and hit straight to Irfan at mid-on.

Two balls later, Sreesanth came up with a vicious inswinging yorker to crash through Dhoni's (2/2) defence.

Heading into the break, Chennai was in a spot of bother at 70 for four.

There was ample drama in the third ball after resumption. Jacob Oram (17/21) hit Powar behind point and set off for a run following a misfiled by Chawla. But the latter was quck to recover and throw back at the bowler, who found the fielder short.

Oram had walked back to the pavilion when the third umpire ruled him not out in what seemed a bizarre decision.

The New Zealand allrounder thanked his fortune smashing Sreesanth wide of mid on for his first boundary.

But Raina, who had recorded his second half-century (52) in this edition against Kolkata in the last match, succumbed to the pressure, hitting Wilkin Mota straight to Lee at short third man.

Gony (7/5) smashed Chawla over deep midwicket for a maximum but perished just two balls later, cleaned up by a ball that spun away.

Chennai were precariously placed at 96 for six after 15 overs.

The 18th over, bowled by Irfan, ensured two more wickets for Punjab.

Oram's poor run of form continued when he skied Irfan and the latter accepted the catch with gratitude. Two balls later, R Ashwin (8/15) hit straight to Luke Pommersbach at extra cover.

Thushara was run out in the final over as Chennai crawled to 116 for nine, the last five overs of their innings yielding just 20 runs.

Punjab innings:

The Punjab reply began on a tentative note. Thushara, playing his first match, accounted for Sunny Sohal (3/9) in the second over.

Pommersbach (26/32) tried to break free in the Sri Lankan's second over, first clearing the fine leg boundary for maximum and then getting a boundary in the same area.

The Australian also had his share of good fortune when he was dropped by Lakshmipathy Balaji at extra cover of Ashwin.

But Muralitharan bowled Simon Katich (8/13) round his legs to reduce Punjab to 32 for two after the seventh over.

Yuvraj (6/19) and Pommersbach ensured their team headed into the strategic time out without any further loss, at 42 for two, needing 75 off their last 10 overs.

The latter fell in the second over after resumption, Muralitharan making him edge one straight to Raina at slips.

And when Raina cleaned up Yuvraj, who had hardly looked comfortable during the course of his innings, it seemed a lost cause for Punjab.

They crawled to 59 for four after 15 overs, needing a massive 58 runs from their final 30 balls.

And Ashwin hit the final nail in the Punjab coffin with a double breakthrough in the 16th over, first catching Kumar Sangakkara (7/9) off his own bowling and then two balls later, trapping Mota (5/10), who had been dropped by Raina off his own bowling the previous over, plumb in front. 

Sangakkara's dismissal, in particular, wiped out any hopes Punjab had of surpassing the target.

Lee (6/7) smashed Raina between long-off and deep cover fielder for a boundary. However, four balls later he holed out to Oram at long-on. 

Irfan (14/12), drooped by Gony at short fine, failed to make the most of his good fortune, holing out to Oram at long-off.

Powar hit a boundary to fine leg in Balaji's final over but, by then, it was too little, too late.

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