Shane Watson roared back with a superb 96 off 53 balls to form as Chennai Super Kings defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by 6 wickets to reclaim the top spot in the 2019 Indian Premier League points table. CSK returned home after 2 weeks and returned to winning ways after back-to-back defeats in Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
Chennai Super Kings were firmly on top till April 22 but Delhi Capitals’ crushing win over Rajasthan Royals meant they moved to No.1 thanks to a superior net run rate. CSK, the defending champions, now have 8 wins and 16 points from 11 matches and are ever so close to a berth in the play-offs.
Shane Watson’s match-winning 44 against Delhi Capitals at the Feroz Shah Kotla on March 26 had started to seem like a distant memory. Last season, he had hit 2 hundreds and 2 fifties and collected 555 runs from 15 matches.
This year, Shane Watson had not scored a fifty in 10 matches before the face-off against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Faced with a steep 176-run chase against the SRH, the Super Kings were dealt an early blow when Faf du Plessis was brilliantly run out by Deepak Hooda in the 2nd over.
But Shane Watson decided it was a good night to score some runs and joined forces with Suresh Raina, another CSK veteran who was woefully out of form with the bat this summer.
Shane Watson was fired up when he had a verbal spat with Rashid Khan in the leg-spinner’s first over. And there was no stopping Watson after that. With Suresh Raina, he added 77 off 7.3 overs. Even after Raina perished to a perfect googly from Rashid Khan, Shane Watson never took his foot off the accelerator.
Ambati Rayudu was solid and tried nothing flashy with Shane Watson on song.
Shane Watson was particularly harsh on Rashid Khan and Sandeep Sharma and was primed for his 5th IPL hundred but he fell 4 runs short after edging a Bhuvneshwar Kumar delivery to Jonny Bairstow who held on to a spectacular catch behind the stumps. However, Watson had done his job by then and CSK needed only 16 off 17 balls when Kedar Jadhav joined Rayudu in the middle.
Earlier in the evening, CSK opted to field after MS Dhoni won the toss. Harbhajan Singh returned after recovering from a stiff neck and he made an immediate impact when he dismissed the in-form Jonny Bairstow for 0.
But that was the last CSK smiled on the field during the SRH innings as David Warner, the Orange Cap holder and Manish Pandey, added 115 for the 2nd wicket in 12 overs.
Pandey, the 1st Indian batsman to score an IPL hundred, had been short of runs before this game but he found his touch after being promoted to No.3 in the absence of Kane Williamson.
In fact, Manish Pandey was far more aggressive than David Warner and took ful the CSK attack to the cleaners and ran hard against an average fielding side, putting them under further pressure.
It was Harbhajan Singh who snared David Warner to break the partnership. The Sunrisers were on their way to 200 but that crucial break meant the onus of a late acceleration was on Manish Pandey along with Vijay Shankar and Manish Pandey. But CSK bowled well in the back-end and gave away only 41 runs off the last 5 overs.
This was a spectacular win for Chennai Super Kings. Shane Watson and Suresh Raina returned to form at the right time for the defending champions and with MS Dhoni among the runs, they will now be a force to reckon with.