Punjab survived a big scare from MS Dhoni (career-best 79* off 44 balls) to hand CSK their first defeat in IPL 2018 on Sunday. Chasing 198 to win at Mohali, CSK looked very much out of the reckoning when they needed 55 runs to win in three overs with Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja at the crease.
The way they had batted in the previous few overs, it appeared they had already reconciled with the prospect of a defeat. Just then taking Punjab unawares, Dhoni hit top gear paying no heed to a troubling back injury. In the 18th over bowled by former team-mate Mohit Sharma, the ex-India captain hit a six and a four as he appeared to have planned a big heist. Jadeja added to his cause with a six of his own off the last ball of the over.
Aussie Andrew Tye bowled the next over and after he had finished his over, people had finally begun believing that CSK at last had a chance. Tye had conceded 19 runs to Dhoni in an over that saw the master finisher hit him for two sixes and a four.
With 17 runs needed to win in the last over, many had put their money on Dhoni to do the job. However, familiarity with Dhoni as a former CSK team-mate helped bowler Mohit a great deal as twice he bowled away from Dhoni on the off side and managed to keep the big hitter quiet. Those two dots made a big difference and Dhoni could only take a six and a four from the five balls he played in the over as Punjab breathed a big sigh of relief, having handed CSK a four-run defeat.
Earlier in the day after being put into bat, Punjab posted a solid total for which they had Chris Gayle plenty to thank. Gayle replaced Marcus Stoinis to get his first game this season and he looked in ominous touch from the word go as he drove Harbhajan Singh for a four off the first ball he faced.
The West Indian went from strength to strength thereafter and completed his 50 off just 22 balls. Gayle hit seven fours and four sixes before he succumbed to Shane Watson for 63 off 33 balls.
The Chennai camp was really joyous with the wicket of Gayle as he was really looking good for a big score. KL Rahul, who was Punjab's first wicket to fall, provided good support to Gayle with 37 and both added 96 runs for the opening stand.
However, after Gayle returned to the dug-out, KXIP lost the plot and wickets at regular intervals. That they still managed to score 197/7 was largely down to Karun Nayar's effort (29 off 17 balls) towards the end of the innings. As it turned out later, Nayar's runs proved invaluable.