In yet another one-sided encounter featuring Kings XI Punjab, Chennai Super Kings defeated them by seven wickets on Saturday to stay firm at the top of the points table. Batting first in the match played at Mohali, Kings managed a disappointing 130 for 7. As has been the case right through the series, Punjab's famed batting line-up let them down again. Considering the poor run they have had this season, it was an apt end for them. Chennai, on the other hand, put up a clinical effort as they have been doing throughout the season.
Batting first, they never looked in any kind of rhythm at all. They needed a good start to put up a decent score on the board. But, that never happened as they kept losing wickets at regular intervals. Wriddhiman Saha began with a couple of breezy boundaries, but Chennai's decision to open the bowling worked for them as Pawan Negi sent him back for 15. The other opener Manan Vohra also fell early as Punjab got off to another horror start. Skipper George Bailey decided to promote himself to number three, but the move did not work as the in-form Ashish Nehra had him caught behind.
With wickets falling early, Punjab's middle-order had another opportunity to make an impression, but they failed again. Glenn Maxwell, who has had a torrid run, ended his season with another poor score, cleaned up Ravindra Jadeja for 6. Ravichandran Ashwin also got into the act as he stumped a lost Gurukeerat Singh to continue Chennai's dominance. And, when David Miller was taken out by a shorter length delivery by Negi, the Kings had crumbled to 78 for 6.
There was a serious chance of Punjab being bowled out early, but Axar Patel and Rishi Dhawan ensured that Punjab had something to bowl at. Patel, like in the last game, again batted with conviction, and Dhawan hit a couple of impressive strokes as Punjab managed to drag themselves to 130. It was never going to be enough unless of course they got many quick wickets.
There was slender hope for Punjab as Mike Hussey, featuring in his first match of the season, was caught behind off the bowling of the impressive Sandeep Sharma very early on. Beuran Hendricks then dealt Chennai with a bigger blow, cleaning up Brendon McCullum for a single- figure score. One partnership was all Chennai needed though, and they got it as Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina eased their way into the chase. du Plessis went on to complete a brisk fifty, and Raina was unbeaten on 41 as Chennai won by 7 wickets.
--By A Cricket Correspondent