Chennai Super Kings players celebrate their victory against Kings XI Punjab at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. Courtesy: IPL website
Mohammed Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Ruturaj Gaikwad continued his fine form and scored yet another fifty to steer Chennai Super Kings to a nine-wicket victory over Punjab in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
With the victory, Chennai, who have already been ousted from the tournament, ended the hopes of Punjab’s qualification for the play-offs.
Punjab remained on 12 points while three teams already have 14 points each.
After restricting, Punjab to 153/6, Chennai went over the line with seven balls to spare.
Chasing, Chennai got off to a blazing start as the opening duo of Faf Du Plessis and Gaikwad shared an 81-run partnership for the first wicket to set the tone for a successful chase.
Both the openers decimated the hapless Punjab bowling attack and plundered 81 runs in nine overs to lay down a solid foundation.
Chris Jordan dismissed du Plessis to give Punjab the only breakthrough. He hit two sixes and four boundaries during his stint at the crease.
After his dismissal, Gaikwad and Ambati Rayudu shared an unbeaten 72-runs stand for the second wicket to take them over the line.
Gaikwad’s 49-ball 62 was studded with four sixes and one six.
Earlier, batting first, Punjab got off to a fiery start. The return of Mayank Agarwal meant that Gayle could play in the middle-order.
KL Rahul and Agarwal once again combined to do what they do best together. The duo gave Punjab a blitzkrieg start, adding 48 runs for the first wicket in just 5.2 overs.
Lungi Ngidi gave Chennai first breakthrough by getting rid of Agarwal. He rattled the stumps of the left-hander to break the dangerous-looking partnership.
Punjab failed to capitalise on the opening stand and lost quite a few wickets in quick successions. In the ninth over, Ngidi struck again to send Rahul back to the pavilion.
He uprooted the timbers of Rahul to make it 62-2 in 8.3 overs.
With Gayle and Nicholas Pooran in the middle Punjab looked set to post a huge total.
But Pooran looked in a hurry and nicked it to the wicket-keeper off Shardul Thakoor while trying to slog it over the mid-wicket.
He miscued it completely and could manage a thick edge only and the ball landed into the safe hands of Dhoni.
Gayle, who smashed a blazing 99 off 63 deliveries in their match against Rajasthan Royals, also failed to convert his start into a big score and was trapped in front of the wicket by Imran Tahir.
Punjab were reduced to 72/4 from 48/0. They had lost four wickets with in a span of 22 runs.
Punjab needed someone to bind the innings and take the total to a respectable score. At the same time, they also had to maintain run rate to keep their qualification bid alive.
Mandeep Singh, who played a match-winning knock as an opener, and Hooda knuckled down to steady the ship. The duo played cautiously and added a watchful 36 runs to drag the score past 100-run mark in 16 overs.
Hooda started off slowly paced up his innings nicely. He made his intentions clear when he tonked Tahir for a six in the 16th over.
After that there was no looking back. Both the batsmen kept the scoreboard tickling with occasional boundaries.
Ravindra Jadeja was brought into the attack and it paid the dividend. He clean bowled Mandeep to push Punjab on the back foot again.
After the departure of Mandeep, Hooda took the charge into his hands and smashed two sixes in the 18th over off Ngidi, collecting sixteen runs of the over. He brought up his fifty with a single off Thakur in just 25 deliveries.
Hooda remained unbeaten and propelled the score to a fighting total of 153/6. His innings was studded with four sixes and three boundaries.
Both skipper KL Rahul (17) and in-form opener Mayank Agarwal (25) failed to deliver as Punjab were pushed on to the back foot and never looked in contention in their chase.
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