Chennai completed a league double over Punjab for the second time in three years, this time defeating KL Rahul's team by nine wickets to end their run in this year's Indian T20 League.
Chennai, who decided to field, restricted Punjab to 153/6 after a brilliant bowling effort from Lungi Ngidi and their spinning contingent. In turn, Chennai lost a solitary wicket as Ruturaj Gaikwad scored his third consecutive half-century to end Chennai's tenure on a high.
Having said that, let's have a look at things we learned from the game:
Tahir finally gets Gayle
Imran Tahir has been a part of the Indian T20 League setup since 2014, but not even once in these six years has he managed to bag Chris Gayle's scalp. In fact, before today’s game, Gayle has smashed the South African spinner for 39 runs in 16 deliveries, hitting at a strike-rate of 243.75 in three innings. On Sunday though, Tahir was exceptionally lustrous, especially against Gayle. Not only did he concede a boundary but also restricted the hard-hitting West Indian to just six runs off 10 deliveries against him.
There were other personal battles as well, as it was the second time this season that Shardul Thakur got the better of Nicholas Pooran. In these two games, Pooran has scored a solitary run in three deliveries against the 29-year-old.
Deepak Hooda’s effort in vain
Neither Gayle, KL Rahul nor Mayank Agarwal did enough to build momentum for the lower-order batsmen on Sunday. The trio, in fact, combined for just 67 runs and Chennai looked well on course to dismantle the rest of the order. Deepak Hooda walked in as Punjab were scoring at a measly rate of 6.08, having posted 73/4 in 12 overs. They were in a dire need of someone’s hard-hitting prowess and Hooda was arguably the last man they would have expected to take them to a respectable total, given that his last half-century in the Indian T20 League came way back in 2015 against Delhi.
The 25-year-old Rohtak native took his time to settle, but once he did, took the entire Chennai bowlers by storm. Despite getting least support from the other end, Hooda took Punjab’s run-rate from 6 to 7.65 while also completing his half-century in a mere 26 deliveries. An unbeaten 62 off 30 balls - a whopping 40.52 percent of his team’s total - is now his best ever score in the Indian T20 League. But while it was a commendable effort from the 25-year-old, the bowling contingent failed to deliver on the day as Chennai took home two points.
Chennai have got 99 problems, but Punjab isn't one of them
1: Number of wickets Punjab have taken against Chennai in two games this season.
The aforementioned data underlines the supremacy of Chennai over Punjab, not just in the current edition, but since the inception of the league. The fact that MS Dhoni’s side has won 14 of their 23 meetings against Punjab is further testament to their prevailing authority. The last time these two sides met, Punjab posted a commendable 178/4 only to see their bowlers failing to keep Chennai in check. Their best bowler on that night was Ravi Bishnoi, who conceded at an economy of 8.25. Chennai eventually won the game by 10 wickets and 14 balls still to spare.
The game on Sunday was all about Ruturaj Gaikwad’s third consecutive half-century. After Faf du Plessis departed for 48, Gaikwad continued with his steady approach to take his team to glory.
Feature image courtesy: Twitter / @IndianT20League