A blazing 36-ball 71 from KL Rahul helped Kings XI Punjab finish their season with a victory, but couldn't stop Chennai Super Kings from ending in the top two positions in the points table. Despite the six-wicket loss, CSK have confirmed their place in the Qualifier 1 in Chennai on Tuesday.
Batting first, CSK posted 170 for 5 in 20 overs, riding on a 55-ball 96 from Faf du Plessis and Suresh Raina's 38-ball 53. Punjab chased down the target in 18 overs.
Had Punjab chased down the target inside 14.2 overs, CSK's net run-rate would have come below Delhi Capitals', endangering their top-two finish. That was in real danger in the initial part of the chase, with Rahul going bonkers. He started with five dots off Deepak Chahar before hitting the sixth ball for a six. There was no looking back.
MS Dhoni turned to Harbhajan Singh to get rid of Chris Gayle, but Rahul hogged the strike and toyed around with the bowling. Sixes flew to all parts of the ground, as Harbhajan conceded 41 runs in his first two overs. Punjab raced to 57 for no loss in the first four, Rahul already scoring a half-century off just 19 balls by then.
Chahar bowled a decent spell conceding just 18 off his first three overs, but KXIP still got 68 runs in the Power Play. At that stage, Rahul was 55 off 23, while Gayle was on 6 off 13.
Gayle took on Imran Tahir after the Power Play slamming two sixes and a four, but Dhoni turned to death bowling mode with Dwayne Bravo, who conceded just 15 in the first three. Punjab got 106 for no loss in the first 10.
Dhoni, rather bravely, turned to Harbhajan once again and the move nearly provided a late twist, as Rahul and Gayle departed off successive balls going for big shots.
Mayank Agarwal then fell in the off-spinner's next over, pulling a rank long hop to deep square-leg. From conceding 41 in the first two, Harbhajan ended with figures of 3 for 57.
The quick wickets didn't prevent a Punjab victory, but it ensured CSK finish in the top two.
The pitch was good, but Chennai struggled at the top as they have done through the season. Shane Watson scored just 7 off 11 before missing a skiddy delivery from Sam Curran. CSK managed just 42 for 1 in the Power Play, largely thanks to du Plessis.
Raina and du Plessis got a big partnership, but they never took the game away from Punjab. CSK's progression was gradual, and not quick enough for a wicket like Mohali's. Raina targeted the left-arm spin of Harpreet Brar for a six and du Plessis hit M Ashwin for a couple of boundaries but CSK reached only 106 for 1 in 14 overs.
Du Plessis accelerated, taking on M Ashwin and Andrew Tye in the next two overs, which cost 18 each. However, Raina's dismissal in the 17th over triggered a collapse and a complete loss in momentum. Du Plessis was bowled by a superb yorker four short of his century, while the others, including MS Dhoni, couldn't connect the big hits. CSK added just 28 runs in the last four overs, with Mohammed Shami conceding just five in the last over picking up two wickets.
The result ensured Royal Challengers Bangalore finished in the last position.
First Published: May 6, 2019, 8:20 AM IST