It threatens to be a bit tight for the Chennai Super Kings, two wickets over Jason Holder, who knocked out the failed Hollywood Have and Suresh Raina and Faf du Plessis from Moin Ali. When Jason Roy flew like Hugo Loris – Roy was a Tottenham Hotspur fan – and refused a certain boundary to MS Dhoni, the equation for CSK was 20 runs in 14 deliveries.

Ambati Rayudu went the next ball in and out and slowly sent one from Siddharth Kaul to the extra cover fence, then Bhuvneshwar Kumar hit a six in the over. Then Dhoni came into the act, hitting Kumar off four. The CSK captain finished it in style with a six with a deep midwicket. His team Sunrisers Hyderabad reached the playoffs with six balls to spare with two balls to spare.

6-3 throat pressing

It showcases the latest Sharjah pitch, its old dark color and sparkle. On the face of it, the surface promises to be a throwback to the time when Javed Miandad was torturing India in this part of the world.

Looks can be deceptive though. The ball is still stuck to the surface, making stroke-play difficult. Initially, Deepak Chahar also bought some swing.

SRH’s negligence started from their team huddle before the match. Coach Trevor Bayliss gestured for his men to come closer and hugged him tightly. Since both Rashid Khan and the holder appeared to be smiling, the team discussion could have been easier. Long before the start of the game, SRH seemed to have written their season‌.

While batting, they were against a clear plan from Dhoni and precise execution from CSK bowlers. The 6-3 field has not been common in this format for such a long time, but only a few can read it as sharply as Dhoni. Even when he died, Shardul was bowling to Thakur Khan, with only three fielders on the leg side — short fine leg, deep mid-wicket and long-on. Dhoni briefly wished his pacers off the stumps, allowing the batsmen to play across the line with a packed off-side field. Result: Kane Williamson is playing all over LBW, so all four are caught doing hiccups or swiping.

Roy took off in the powerplay, trying to force a cross-bat shot to Josh Hazelwood (3/24) delivery from outside the off stump and under-edging Dhoni. Fit-Again Dwayne Bravo returned to the eleventh and, as was his habit, used slow deliveries to his stock ball for amazing impact. Williamson made the mistake of playing across the line in full delivery and he was too early in his shot and even played on the wrong line. Bravo took the first wicket.

His second, when Priyam Garg tried to make a jump — another cross-the-line shot — and Dhoni took the skier. With Wriddhiman Saha’s no-ball relieving effort, he ended up trying to pull off Ravindra Jadeja’s delivery. Abhishek Sharma was interesting to score 18 off 13 balls, but even in his case it was a leg-side dismissal — Faz du Plessis Hazelwood caught at long-on. Only Abdul Samad and Holder died for off-side catches.
SRH is calling for innings, fours and sixes, never gaining the required momentum. The franchise needs a full reboot next year.

Shared batting

Unlike last year, CSK is focusing on active starts this season, and this approach is working well for them. Once again, their openers Ruturaj Gaikwad and Du Plessis shared a 75-run partnership in 10 overs. Although they are modestly chasing 135, they need good powerplay due to the strip nature. Both sent CSK to the flyer – 47 not out after six overs. Their shared batting was one reason CSK turned the word around.

They looked like fish out of water and breathing fish in the desert for the better part of last year’s IPL. This year, CSK have now won four of four here, rising to 18 points from 11 matches. Even the so-called ‘Dads Army’ look very fitter, which is an ominous sign for their rivals.

Brief scores: Sunrisers Hyderabad lost 134/7 (Saha 44, Hazelwood 3/24, Bravo 2/17) in 20 overs to Chennai Super Kings by 139/4 (Gaikwad 45, Du Plessis 41, Holder 3/27) in 19.4 overs by six wickets.

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