Led by the seasoned Harbhajan Singh, Chennai Super Kings spinners put on a dominating show to help the side reclaim the top position with a 22-run win over Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match in Chennai yesterday.
Defending 160 for three, Chennai restricted Punjab to 138 for 5 despite half centuries from KL Rahul (55) and Sarfaraz Khan (67).
The visitors scored at a low pace and required to score 26 off the last over, bowled by IPL debutant Scott Kuggeleijn. The Kiwi paceman had no trouble defending those runs and also dismissed Sarfaraz.
Harbhajan was the best bowler for the hosts with the figures of 4-1-17-2. In a brilliant spell, he bowled a maiden and grabbed two wickets, including that of the 'universal boss' Chris Gayle.
Ravindra Jadeja (4-0-24-0) and Imran Tahir (4-0-20-0) also helped Chennai put the brakes on the rival batsmen. They, along with Harbhajan, conceded only 61 runs in 12 overs even as the required run-rate kept mounting.
Kuggeleijn did not start very well, being hit for a six off his very first ball, but did well to finish with 2 for 37 in his 4 overs.
Harbhajan struck a huge blow to rivals by dismissing the Gayle, having him caught behind by M S Dhoni for 5 in the second over.
Two balls later, he had the stylish Mayank Agarwal, caught by Faf du Plessis near the boundary with the batsman going for a big hit. Harbhajan started off with a double wicket maiden to put Kings XI on the backfoot early.
In the 13th over, Rahul's missed sweep saw Dhoni flick the ball on to the stumps but the bails didn't come off though the LED lights lit up, ensuring the batsman survived despite being short of his crease.
The century partnership for the third wicket between Rahul and Sarfaraz was a productive one but they consumed a lot of balls and stymied Punjab's chase as the Chennai bowlers kept things tight.
SCORES IN BRIEF
CHENNAI: 160 for 3 in 20 overs (Du Plessis 54, Dhoni 37 not out, Watson 26; Ashwin 3-23)
PUNJAB: 138 for 5 in 20 overs (Khan 67, Rahul 55; Harbhajan 2-17, Kuggeleijn 2-37)
Result: Chennai won by 22 runs.
Player-of-the-match: Harbhajan Singh.