Punjab Kings beat Super Kings at their own game

PBKS were helped by a hamstrung CSK bowling line-up and the dew factor. (Source: X.com)

Chennai Super Kings were without two of their frontline seamers – Tushar Deshpande and Matheesha Pathirana. Then they lost Deepak Chahar early in the second innings. With three frontline bowlers missing and dew on the ground, defending a below-par target of 163 was always going to be challenging for the home team. Predictably, they couldn’t contain the opposition, who chased down the target comfortably in under 18 overs with seven wickets in hand. This victory propelled Punjab Kings to seventh place, while CSK maintained their position in fourth.

Twin Strikes from Harpreet Brar

PBKS fast bowlers struggled in the Powerplay as CSK openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Ajinkya Rahane navigated through without losing any wicket, a first for them this season. They managed to score 55 runs in the first six overs. However, the introduction of spin in the form of Harpreet Brar and Rahul Chahal slowed down the run-rate, with two quiet overs followed by one going for five runs and another for four. Pressure led to Rahane’s dismissal in the ninth over while attempting a big shot. In that very over, Brar outsmarted an in-form Shivam Dube, dealing a significant blow to CSK. He became the first traditional left-arm finger spinner to dismiss Dube in the IPL since 2022. The twin strikes in the ninth over pushed CSK on the back foot. The new pitch was assisting the spinners as it offered turn and grip, something which is often associated with the Chepauk. Dube’s wicket was crucial for PBKS as he has been the enforcer for CSK, and getting him out early made a lot of difference to the game.

Gaikwad’s fifty and the final flourish by CSK

By the time spin was introduced, Gaikwad had already faced 23 balls. He had assessed the wicket and decided not to take on the spinners. With wickets falling at the other end, Gaikwad was content to nudge the ball around. It was evident that he wanted to bat deep and he succeeded, reaching his fifty in the 17th over; his third score of fifty or more in the ongoing season. After going without a boundary for 57 balls, CSK managed to accelerate in the last five overs, scoring 60 runs at 12 per over. The final flourish helped them reach the target of 162.

Dew nullifies CSK spinners

After the first six overs of the Powerplay in the first innings, the towels were brought out, indicating that dew had settled in at Chepauk. There was noticeably less dew during the first innings compared to the second, which significantly reduced the spin factor later on. Ravindra Jadeja and Moeen Ali struggled to grip the ball, leading to boundaries being leaked in the middle overs. CSK’s best chance of winning relied on their spinners making a big impact, similar to what PBKS spinners did. Unfortunately, though, that didn’t happen. The average turn in the first innings was 3.3 degrees, but it dropped to 2.3 degrees in the second, clearly indicating that dew played a significant role in making CSK spinners less effective.

Easy run-chase for the visitors

With dew settling in and CSK missing their three frontline pacers, PBKS were expected to have an easy run chase, and indeed it was. Despite Prabhsimran Singh’s early dismissal, PBKS collected 52 runs in the first six overs. The left-right combination of Rilee Rossouw and Jonny Bairstow didn’t allow CSK spinners to settle. Both scored 40s and ensured that their team edged closer to the victory line. Shashank Singh and skipper Sam Curran then ensured that PBKS got home without any hiccups.