CHENNAI: Stop the press. Maybe Chennai Super Kings' demise was exaggerated a touch. There is still some life left in the old dog yet. On Tuesday, they played a near-perfect T20 match against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Dubai for their third win this year. A loss would have almost killed off their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages.
The 20-run win was based on a few things they did for the first time this IPL. After their last match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, skipper MS Dhoni spoke about the importance of being more expressive with the bat. "Our main worry remains the batting department. In the coming games, we will try to be more expressive."
There was more than a grain of truth in that statement. They had been unsure, there was next to no intent and some of the batsmen had used the middle overs to further the art of the perfect forward defence.
There was none of that against David Warner & Co., at least in the opening exchanges.
Right from the get go, Chennai showed intent. After winning the toss, MS Dhoni opted to bat — a first this season — and the sight of Sam Curran walking out was a further indication that the penny had dropped.
The way the southpaw attacked the powerplay suggested that. His 31 off 21 allowed the ones who followed to play the game at their own pace.
Shane Watson scored 42 off 38 and Ambati Rayudu made 41 off 34. After the finishers — Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja — helped the team to 75 runs in the last seven overs, the target of 168 on a slowish, wearing wicket was always going to be tricky.
And that's what transpired as the bowlers mixed and matched their pace. They were also aided by a lethargic Hyderabad batting unit, whose work was reminiscent of some of Chennai's previous batting displays.
Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings: 167 for 6 in 20 overs. (Shane Watson 42, Ambati Rayudu 41; Sandeep Sharma 2/19, T Natarajan 2/41). Sunrisers Hyderabad: 147 for 8 in 20 overs. (K Williamson 57, J Bairstow 23; K Sharma 2/37, D Barvo 2/25).