Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Chennai Super Kings’s captain, credited the positive intent of his openers for their 10-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League encounter in Dubai on Sunday. Chasing 179 to win, Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis got the Chennai side over the line with 14 balls to spare, in the process bringing up the highest-ever opening partnership for CSK in the history of the Twenty20 tournament. “The kind of start we got in batting, that’s what we needed. We needed momentum with the right kind of shots. Watto and Faf backed themselves with the shots they’re known for,” a visibly elated Dhoni said after the match.
Dhoni reserved special praise for former Australia international, Watson, who shrugged off poor form with an unbeaten 53-ball 83. He struck three sixes and 11 fours during his innings. “It’s not about being more aggressive,” Dhoni said about Watson’s knock. “He was hitting it well in the nets and what you need is to do that in the middle. It was just a matter of time.”
Praising du Plessis, who notched up his third fifty of the season, Dhoni said,”Faf is like a sheet anchor for us, keeps playing those shots in the middle. “I think we did the small things. That’s what was important to us. Hopefully, we’ll be able to replicate this in the coming games. It is something that we bank [consistency in selection] and sometimes Fleming doesn’t get as much credit. The good thing is we have one plan. It’s not that we don’t have debates, but it’s one plan, that’s the relationship between us.
“I feel looking at the first 3-4 games, what you really think is you restrict them (opposition) to as little as possible and that can add pressure. Every team has a furious hitter who can disrupt the bowling and our bowlers did well.”
CSK pacers, especially Shardul Thakur, kept the Kings XI batsmen under check in the final five overs, going for just 48 and picking two wickets. Thakur’s third over – 18th of the innings – went for just three and the right-arm seamer removed the dangerous duo of KL Rahul and Nicholas Pooran off successive balls to dent KXIP’s hopes of getting to 200.