Chennai Super Kings made MS Dhoni’s return as captain as an occasion to celebrate on Sunday with the champions scoring a 13-run victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad at Pune.
CSK, playing their first game since Ravindra Jadeja handed back captaincy to Dhoni, first showed their batting might by scoring 202/2 with SRH’s formidable pace attack failing to make a dent early on for the first time this IPL season.
In reply, Sunrisers were restricted to 189/6 despite Nicholas Pooran’s 33-ball 64 not out (3×4, 6×6).
For a CSK in their pomp, this would have been business as usual. But coming after a horror run this IPL, Dhoni’s fans will hope for a dream comeback run by the side languishing in the bottom half of the 10-team table.
Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (99—57b, 6×4, 6×6) and Devon Conway (85*–55b, 8×4, 4×6) were off to a quick start and never looked back, averaging more than 10 runs an over. Though Gaikwad missed a century after offering a simple catch to point off T Natarajan, his was a superb effort. Gaikwad and Conway raised a 185-run opening stand in 17.5 overs.
Sunrisers Hyderabad fast bowler Umran Malik, the talk of this IPL for his express pace and wicket-taking performances, was once came off second best as Gaikwad attacked. The pressure was on SRH’s bowling. Malik gave away 48 runs in his four overs, though he twice clocked 155kph.
Gaikwad was going at a strike-rate of 173 with the 100 a mere formality until he fell to a soft dismissal.
CSK even looked good to reach 220, but SRH bowlers checked the scoring as they conceded only 49 runs in the last five overs. Dhoni, coming in at No 3, struggled against Malik’s pace before he fell to Natarajan, caught by Malik.
“I thought the wicket was on the slower side so I wanted to take my time and felt that once I get the pace of the wicket, batting would be easy. I haven’t batted much with Devon but he is always in my room and irritating me so the camaraderie has always been there,” Gaikwad told the broadcaster. On Dhoni’s return as skipper, he said: “Pretty much the usual, obviously he comes up (and it lifts) confidence.”
Sunrisers Hyderabad faced a daunting job. Opener Abhishek Sharma (39) did go after the CSK bowlers from the word go with skipper Kane Williamson (47) at the other end, but fell to left-arm pacer Mukesh Chaudhary. With Rahul Tripathi (0) and Aiden Markram (17) dismissed early, the pressure was on Williamson and Nicholas Pooran. Chaudhary finished with 4/46.
Known for his ability to chase, Pooran landed some lusty blows in pursuit of the target. Just when the duo was going well, Williamson was trapped leg before by Dwaine Pretorius.
Sunrisers Hyderabad did score 24 runs off the last over with Pooran landing three sixes and a four, but the target was always beyond them as they were left to get 38 from the last six balls.
Brief scores: CSK 202/2 (R Gaikwad 99, D Conway 85*, T Natarajan 2/42); SRH 189/6 (N Pooran 64*, M Chaudhary 4/46. CSK won by 13 runs