The Chennai Super Kings went into their clash against Kings XI Punjab as outright favourites, but even they would have been surprised at the ease with which they managed to put it across Punjab at Mohali. The comprehensive win was just what Chennai needed following their disappointing loss to Mumbai Indians a few days earlier in a much closer contest. Chennai were clinical with both the ball and, later, with the bat, as Punjab were pretty much clueless. It was a kind of showing befitting of a former champion by Chennai.
Punjab’s weakness in all departments of the game came to the fore on Wednesday. Their feeble batting line-up, in particular, was tested to the core by some effective bowling by Chennai, and their batsmen were thoroughly exposed. In the absence of Shaun Marsh, Punjab were depending heavily on skipper Adam Gilchrist to give them a cracking start. But, the left-hander, who had quit international cricket nearly a decade back, is not half as good as the player he was during his best days. Thus, it wasn’t surprisingthat he once again fell cheaply. It is difficult to see Gilchrist proving to be a major threat to opponents in the coming weeks.
With Gilchrist gone, Punjab were primarily pinning their hopes on the experienced David Hussey. The Australian discard played a typical fighting knock, and gave Punjab a semblance of a chance for recovery, but once he was dismissed Punjab could not work out a way to keep the scoreboard moving. Gurkeerat Singh once again played a mature hand. However, like Hussey, he also fell at a time when Punjab needed him to carry on to a bigger score. A few runs from the experienced all-rounder Azhar Mahmood would have helped, but he could not live up to the challenge, and the tail pretty much gave it away too easily.
Although Punjab were poor with the bat, it had a lot to do with some very potent bowling from Chennai. Left-arm seamer Dirk Nannes’ early breakthroughs saw to it that Punjab did not get off to the desired quick start. Dwayne Bravo was the pick of the bowlers without doubt, picking up three scalps with some very smart bowling. They were well-aided by the other Chennai bowlers as well. Chris Morris’ two wickets were timely while Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin chipped in with big scalps to further trouble Punjab.
Admittedly, Punjab were unlucky in the field as Michael Hussey was given not out when he was evidently found short of the crease from a direct hit. But, take that one moment away, and Chennai clearly deserved to win the clash. The left-handed Hussey and Murali Vijay set the tempo of the chase perfectly, building their respective innings slowly before cashing in later, and making the Punjab bowlers look club class. The hammering Punjab received at the hands of Vijay and Hussey will surely dent their psyche in the games to come.
Turning point of the game: At 116 for 4 in the 16th over, Punjab were set to get a decent score. But,once Gurukeerat Singh was dismissed by Bravo, a brittle Punjab collapsed.
--By A Cricket Analyst