Mohali, April 10 -- On the second ball of the seventh over in Chennai Super Kings' chase, Ryan Harris scored a direct hit at the non-striker's end. Kings XI Punjab rejoiced, certain they would see the back of Mike Hussey, who had dived full length. CSK at that point had cantered to 38 without loss. Hussey survived a close call, which even the third umpire took ages to deliver. That was the only time Kings XI Punjab looked alive in the match as from there on, CSK displayed total domination.
Chennai came close to losing a wicket on two more occasions, but sloppy work undid Punjab's hopes. In one over by Piyush Chawla, the spinner dropped a return catch from Hussey and then skipper Adam Gilchrist fumbled a simple stumping chance against Murali Vijay.
From there on, the visitors did not put a foot wrong. Poor shot selection by the Kings XI Punjab batsmen and some deft field placements by CSK skipper MS Dhoni left the twice former champions facing a modest target to chase.
In the end, Dhoni's men trotted to an emphatic win. It was a slow and steady approach for openers Hussey and Vijay, who looked determined to erase the thoughts of the batting collapse against Mumbai Indians that cost them the match on their home turf.
Cutting out needless risk, the duo looked in sublime form, suggesting the yellow brigade is gradually warming up to the task.
Hussey remained unbeaten on 79, which was studded with 11 fours and two sixes, which included the winning hit. Vijay had scored a big hundred in the third Test against Australia at the PCA stadium a month ago. The opener was once again happy to play a steady hand as he made a run-a-ball 50 to complete KXIP's rout.
Chennai were caught short against the formidable Mumbai Indians in their last game, but the side has too many seasoned players to let go of the chances which Punjab provided time and again.
After an emphatic win over the Pune Warriors, a lot was expected of the Kings XI Punjab's domestic players, featuring in their backyard. Not only did the likes of Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh and Gurkeerat Mann fail to take advantage of their starts, the manner in which they got out left Kings XI bowlers with a sub-par score of 138 to defend.
Left-arm pacer Dirk Nannes gave the team an ideal start when he snapped up KXIP skipper Adam Gilchrist and Mandeep Singh of the third and fifth balls of the third over. Last match's hero Vohra started off with some lusty blows but found Hussey, whom Dhoni had moved only prior to the delivery.
David Hussey and Mann raised some hopes of the home team of getting to a respectable total with a quick fire 56-run partnership for the fourth wicket. But R Ashwin and Dawyne Bravo removed the duo in the space of six balls to peg KXIP back again.
Thereafter, it was just a tale of reckless shots and poor judgment as KXIP folded.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.