Chennai Super Kings are regarded as one of the finest teams in the Indian Premier League because it always takes a special effort to upstage them. Till now, they have lost only one match – to the irrepressible Kings XI Punjab which was successful because of the spectacular belligerence shown by its hard hitters Glenn Maxwell and David Miller. The scenario was repeated on May 7, 2014 when the two sides met at the Barabati Stadium in Cuttack where Kings XI Punjab defeated the league leaders Chennai Super Kings by 44 runs and ascended to the top of the leader board.
Team composition: Punjab made a couple of changes for this game. It left out Cheteshwar Pujara and Lakshmipathy Balaji and brought in Mandeep Singh and Murali Kartik in their place. The Chennai side was unchanged from the previous game.
Batting: Super Kings won the toss and decided to field perhaps to deny Kings XI the advantage of chasing and also because of the stellar form of its opening pair. Batting first Kings XI raced to a huge total of 231 for 4 in its 20 overs. The main architect of this massive total was Maxwell (90 from 38 balls) but Miller (47 from 32 balls), skipper George Bailey (40 from 13 balls) and Virender Sehwag (30 from 23 balls) all played their parts in building this total.
Super Kings would have won the game but the early loss of Dwayne Smith set them back. After that, Faf du Plessis (52 from 25 balls), Suresh Raina (35 from 27 balls), Brendon McCullum (33 from 20) and MS Dhoni (23 from 20) tried hard but the team was unable to win the crucial game.
Bowling: Mohit Sharma was the best bowler for CSK yet again with 2 for 38 from in 4 overs. Ben Hilfenhaus (1 for 36) and Smith (1 for 36 in 3 overs) were the other bowlers to pick up wickets.
For KXIP, Mitchell Johnson stood out with his 2 for 37 in 4 overs. Sandeep Sharma (1 for 37), Maxwell (1 for 21) and Rishi Dhawan (1 for 23) were the other successful bowlers for the Punjab team.
Where do the teams go from here?
Now that Kings XI Punjab is on top of the food chain they will know that every team will be gunning for it. The team is choc-a-bloc with quality cricketers and perhaps it will not be such a bad idea to give some of them a couple of games each considering that the side is almost assured to appear in the play offs. This will also make sure that they are ready to come in and perform as and when the need arises.
This defeat would definitely be a setback for the Chennai Super Kings and it remains to be seen how they cope with the second defeat to the same team and same players – Miller and Maxwell – and if they at all make any changes in the next game. As of now, Dhoni might think of checking out the likes of John Hastings, Matt Henry and Ronit More in the quick bowling department given how Ishwar Pandey has been giving away runs and also not taking many wickets. Given the small squad they do not have many options and it remains to be seen how they deal with this situation. As a batting unit they would also need to reduce their dependence on Smith to give them a flying start in each and every game. Perhaps playing Baba Aparajith instead of Mithun Manhas could be an idea worth considering for Super Kings at this stage.