The Result: Kings XI Punjab 7-197 (Gayle 63, Shardul 2-33) defeated Chennai Super Kings 5-193 (Dhoni 79no, Tye 2-47) by four runs.
The match in a tweet: The old guard star in Mohali, Chris Gayle superb in his first match for Kings XI as dominant Dhoni nearly completes a heist #KXIPvCSK
Finch’s foible: Two matches, two balls, two LBW dismissals for Aaron Finch. The Victorian has had a horrid time in IPL 11 with two golden ducks, both after being trapped in front. After missing Kings XI’s opening match due to his wedding, the No.3 was out first ball to Umesh Yadav against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Batting at No.5 in his second outing, it was the same result as he was struck on the pads by Imran Tahir. Finch reviewed his dismissal against RCB to no avail, and opted against sending the latest verdict upstairs.
The fine wines: On one side, 38-year-old Chris Gayle thumped his way to a quick-fire 63 from just 33 deliveries. On the other side, 36-year-old MS Dhoni very nearly snatched victory from the home side with an unbeaten 79, his highest-ever T20 score in his 280th match. Both stalwarts had amazing outings in Mohali, with Gayle’s coming after he had been left out of the team for Kings XI’s first two matches. He smashed seven boundaries and four sixes in his assault, anchoring the top order in his first match for the Punjab side. Dhoni – one of four players for Chennai over the age of 35 – was at his vintage best, hammering six boundaries and five sixes in his 44-ball stay at the crease. Mohit Sharma was the victim of a charged up Dhoni, leaking three sixes as Chennai’s captain and favourite son threatened to steal a win. Needing 17 for victory in the final over, Dhoni crashed a six and a four, but Chennai fell four runs shy.
Captain clutch: Although plaudits will likely go to MS Dhoni for his career-best efforts, praise also needs to go to Kings XI skipper Ravichandran Ashwin who was cool, calm and collected in pressure moments. With bat in hand late in the innings, he hit Shardul Thakur for six to help his side closer to 200. With the ball, he trapped the dangerous Sam Billings in front and when the decision went against him, he bravely reviewed with replays showing the British batsman was plumb in front. He ran an in-form Ambati Rayudu out with a direct hit and took the vital catch to remove Ravi Jadeja, his efforts in the field going a long way in Kings XI Punjab claiming their second victory.
The Aussie Pack: Chennai’s opening batsman Shane Watson fell for 11 after two beautiful fours, a soft dismissal with the ball looping straight to short fine leg from his blade. He sent down two overs and finished with 1-15, claiming the dangerous Chris Gayle with a wicket that mirrored his own demise. For Kings XI, Aaron Finch once again missed out with the bat, with AJ Tye claiming 2-47 from his four overs, another victim of the Dhoni masterclass in Mohali. Marcus Stoinis was left out of the side to make way for Chris Gayle, Finch taking his middle-order spot in a batting line up shuffle.
The next stop: Kings XI Punjab will meet ladder-leaders Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday with Billy Stanlake fresh off a player-of-the-match performance. Chennai then meet Rajasthan on Saturday, with D’Arcy Short and Ben Laughlin to play off against Shane Watson’s side, both teams on two wins apiece.
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