Chennai Super Kings were always going to be the favourites to win against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Chepauk on Saturday. And they did not disappoint their fans. Although Chennai won against Delhi Daredevils, their batting wasn't at its best on that day. On Saturday however, they made amends for the same with a scintillating batting effort. Brendon McCullum was back to his World Cup form, and was quite simply outstanding. Having got a great start, MS Dhoni came in and ensured that Chennai finished off on a high with a kind of counter-attack he hasn't come up with in a while. Their bowlers did not have to do a lot, but they were effective nonetheless.
It has been often mentioned that in T20 cricket, one spectacular innings can decide the fate of a game. This is exactly what happened on Saturday. McCullum came up with a typical flashing knock in which he hit the ball to all parts of the ground, and never allowed the Sunrisers bowlers to settle. What McCullum does when he is on fire is he makes any bowling attack look ordinary. And, the Sunrisers bowling as it is isn't a highly talented bowling attack. While McCullum's knock was sensational without doubt, Dhoni's big hitting was also crucial, without which Chennai might not have crossed 200.
The start for Chennai in the match was also very important. Although Dwayne Smith contributed only 27, he featured in an impressive 75-run opening partnership with McCullum, one that came in just 8 overs, and set the perfect platform for Chennai. Even though Suresh Raina failed for the second time in a row, McCullum's striking from the other end kept Chennai in control, and Dhoni's big hitting at the end completely took the game away from Hyderabad.
For Hyderabad to have a chance, they needed a great start, something similar to what McCullum and Smith gave Chennai. Their skipper Shikhar Dhawan started well with a flurry of boundaries, but he did not last long enough to trouble Chennai. Significantly, although David Warner got a half-century, he wasn't at his fluent best. Having lost Dhawan, they needed Warner to lead the way, but he could not take on the Chennai bowlers. The decision to hold back Kane Williamson also did not help the team's cause. He batted well, but it was too late in the day.
Sunrisers' bowling was also disappointing, although it must be said that he couldn't do much in the face of McCullum's attack. Ishant Sharma was particularly embarrassing bowling no balls, and being hit for massive sixes. Trent Boult's IPL debut too was unimpressive.The others couldn't do much as well. Chennai's bowling was better in comparison. Mohit Sharma mixed it up well to get a couple of big wickets. Ravichandran Ashwin and the rest chipped in, keeping things tight, as Chennai again displayed their superiority.
--By A Cricket Analyst