In the initial stages of the Indian Premier League 2014, the Kings XI Punjab had managed to beat the Chennai Super Kings twice. So when both the teams clashed at the Wankhede Stadium on May 30 for the second qualifier of the tournament, many would have been expecting an encore. It was hard to expect though, given how the Kings XI had been outwitted in the first qualifier by the Kolkata Knight Riders and how the Chennai Super Kings had lorded over the Mumbai Indians at their home turf. In any case, it would have taken a special performance to upstage the Chennai-based team, and that is exactly happened when Virender Sehwag decided to let his bat do the talking.
Team composition: The Chennai team was unchanged from the game against Mumbai, but Punjab made a change by dropping Rishi Dhawan and bringing back Sandeep Sharma in his place.
Batting: The Super Kings won the toss and opted to field first. In what turned out to be a slugfest between the batsmen of both the teams, Sehwag crafted a special century (122 in 58 balls) to ensure that his team ran up a score that was huge enough for even the Super Kings to achieve – 226 for 6. He received good support from Manan Vohra (34 from 31 balls) and David Miller (38 from 19).
Chasing the large total, the Super Kings were kept in the hunt by Suresh Raina, who smashed 87 from just 25 balls, and M.S. Dhoni, who made an unbeaten 42 from 31 balls. However, it is a mystery as to why he batted at no. 7 when he is known as one of the best finishers with the bat and may have benefited the side by coming in at no. 5.
Bowling: It is hard to expect bowlers in the IPL to be economical and incisive. Ashish Nehra took the maximum wickets, two, for the CSK but went for 51 runs. Ishwar Pandey conceded 35 runs – he was the most economical – and got a wicket. Mohit Sharma (1 for 46) and Ravichandran Ashwin (1 for 44) picked up wickets but gave away a lot of runs.
Similarly, for the KXIP, Parvinder Awana (2 for 59) claimed the maximum wickets but also conceded the most runs. Mitchell Johnson (1 for 44), Sandeep (1 for 32 from 3 overs), and Akshar Patel (1 for 23) all claimed wickets, with Akshar standing out, thanks to his exceptional economy rate in a match where the batsmen let all the hell break loose.
Where do the teams go from here?
The Kings XI Punjab has now progressed to the finals, where it will look to avenge the semi-final loss against the Kolkata Knight Riders. The conditions at Bangalore, with a relatively harder wicket, will suit its stroke players and the think tank could play Rishi Dhawan over there and drop Karanveer Singh.
The Chennai Super Kings have had a rather good season, given the corruption cloud surrounding them. The loss of Dwayne Bravo was a blow but they dealt well with it. They have a good batting line up and in the 2015 auction they should look at including more bowlers and all rounders in the team, especially in the quick bowling segment.