Mohali, April 15: Mahendra Singh Dhoni battled through constant back pain and almost pulled off another sensational run chase for Chennai Super Kings but that didn't happen as the Yellow Army lost their first match in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2018 here on Sunday.
MS Dhoni slammed 44-ball 79 and ended the innings with the maximum but CSK couldn't chase down the target of 198 set by an upbeat Kings XI Punjab and lost the game by 4 runs.
Battling back pain, Dhoni took the match into the last over with his blistering knock. However, his valiant effort did not prove to be enough as CSK ended at 193 for five in response to KXIP's 197 for seven at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Counted 16 big hit attempts off 44 balls by Dhoni. Got 56 runs off those attempts. It was Dhoni at his vintage best tonight.👏👏👏#CSKvKXIP— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) April 15, 2018
The Super Kings needed as many as 76 off the last 30 balls and Dhoni got his team almost over the line with an innings comprising six fours and five sixes.
Congratulations to the boys. Good to win this. Excellent knock from Dhoni ,kept everybody on the edge of their seats. But Chris Gayle ,the Universe Boss was magnificent. Our spinners did well to contain in the middle overs. #KXIPvCSK— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) April 15, 2018
With 17 needing off the final over, pacer Mohit Sharma did the job for KXIP, who recorded their second win in three games this season. Dhoni's exhibition of powerful hitting was witnessed after the Chris Gayle show.
Honestly, MS Dhoni batted as well today as I have seen him in the past. Still produces the same excitement and the same fear (depending on which side you are backing!)— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) April 15, 2018
Although the match was being played at the home ground of Kings XI Punjab, but there was no dearth of support for CSK as the crowd was going bonkers to every shot being played by Dhoni. The 37-year-old Ranchi dasher didn't disappoint them either as he scored his highest score in IPL.
With his lone effort, Dhoni has once again silenced those who were questioning his skills in T20s and signing him off.
MSD remaining not out in a unsuccessful chase in IPL:— Bharath Seervi (@SeerviBharath) April 15, 2018
v MI, 2013 (63*)
v KXIP, 2014 (42*)
v KXIP, 2018 (79*)
He has remained not out in 15 successful chases#KXIP
Dhoni might have won the hearts of millions of fans but the man of the match award went to Gayle for giving a blistering start to KXIP and propelling them to a mammoth total.
After being invited to bat first Chris Gayle and KL Rahul gave a sensational start to the Kings XI, together the duo scored 96 runs for the first wicket in the 'Battle of Kings'.
Gayle unleashed himself as he smashed a quickfire fifty and gave his side a blistering start in the powerplays. The crowd at Mohali gave a loud cheer the moment Punjab skipper Ashwin confirmed the West Indies swashbuckler was going to be a part of Playing XI against CSK, and the Universe Boss didn't disappoint them either.
In-form KL Rahul opened the innings along with Gayle and made an immediate impact by putting their blitz on the display. The opening pair started dealing in boundaries and sixes and the fielders in became mere spectators. The duo hammered Chennai bowlers at will and took the score to 75/0 by the end of the powerplay overs.
Gayle by that time had notched up his half-century off just 22 balls as he unleashed himself upon Chennai bowlers. The left-handed batsman from Jamaica looked him ominous touch and hammered the likes of Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh and Shardul Thakur.
It's really amazing how the critics start doubting Dhoni's batting abilities when he does not click in 1-2 innings.— Rajneesh Gupta (@rgcricket) April 15, 2018
It's equally amazing how Dhoni keeps on coming up with jaw-dropping performances one after the other! #KXIPvCSK #IPL2018 #Mahiway
Biggest over for hosts came in the sixth over bowled by Deepak Chahar as Gayle plundered 22 runs from that final over of the powerplay. The Universe Boss hit two boundaries and as many sixes in that over to clear his intentions.
Rahul was the first wicket to perish when he was dismissed on the final delivery of the eighth over. Harbhajan got the prized wicket on his off break full toss going outside off stump. The Karnataka batsman lost his wicket to a poor delivery from Harbhajan as he hung a full-toss outside the off stump and luckily for the bowler, the batsman could only feed the hands of Bravo at short cover who took a good catch.
Gayle hitting is in a completely different league. 👏👏👏🙏.#CSKvsKXIP— Sanjay Manjrekar (@sanjaymanjrekar) April 15, 2018
Mayank Agarwal, who opened the innings for his team in the first two games, came in at one down and immediately joined the party. He along with Gayle batting aggressively to take Punjab past 100 in the 10th over.
Gayle, however, didn't last long at the crease as he was dismissed for 63 off 33 deliveries. Shane Watson got the big wicket as strangled Gayle down the leg-side and he looped the ball to Imran Tahir at short fine-leg. Gayle hadn't hit a boundary since the seventh over but so he felt like he was having a rest before hitting few more big shots and went for the shot and mistimed it.
Dhoni's bowlers then came back strongly as Tahir got rid of dangerous looking Agarwal (30) and Aaron Finch (0) on successive deliveries to bring his team back into the game. Agarwal tried to hit the leg-spinner over his head for another maximum but didn't get the distance this time only to be caught by Jadeja in the deep. While Finch was trapped in front by Tahir on the very next ball and departed for a golden duck in his second straight game.
Veteran Yuvraj Singh was also looking in great touch tonight as he was timing the ball well and the team hoped he would carry his innings through. But the southpaw's innings ended in a short cameo of 13-ball 20. He was dismissed by Shardul Thakur and caught by Dhoni behind the stumps.
Karun Nair then played a cameo of 29 runs and departed in the final over as Punjab reached 197/7 after set 20 overs.
CSK had to make a forced change to their side as their most bankable star Suresh Raina hasn't yet recovered from the calf-injury and the Yellow Army certainly missed him tonight. With suspense over Raina over the next game, CSK would be hoping Dhoni's back injury isn't too serious.