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Cricket news - Rayudu, Du Plessis help CSK overcome MI challenge

Rayudu smashed 71 off 48 after CSK were reduced to 6 for 2.

Rayudu smashed 71 off 48 after CSK were reduced to 6 for 2.

After four defeats in four attempts in 2019, Chennai Super Kings managed to start their 2020 season by turning the tables on their fiercest adversaries and defending champion Mumbai Indians. Hardworking fifties from Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis, and some sloppy fielding from MI, helped CSK overcome MI's just about par total of 162/9 with four balls to spare.

Dhoni expectedly bowled first. How was MI's start?

Better than they'd have expected. Mainly because there was no swing in play for MS Dhoni's PowerPlay star of the last two seasons, Deepak Chahar, inviting Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock to drive and flick to get started. De Kock then punished his erring SA teammate Lungi Ngidi for 18 runs to take MI to 45 for no loss in just four overs.

Then what happened?

Dhoni turned to Rohit's pet peeve - a leg spinner - and earned instantaneous results. Piyush Chawla, CSK's shiny new acquisition, bowled slower than he usually does and lured Rohit to tamely hit one tossed up ball straight to Currat at mid-off. De Kock followed his skipper in the next over, with a limp dismissal pulling Curran straight to Watson at mid-wicket.

How did MI cope after the Powerplay?

Through a very surprising inclusion.

Saurabh Tiwary, who last played an IPL game in the 2017 season, walked out at No.4 and counterattacked CSK at a time when Dhoni was looking to establish his spin choke. Tiwary took a particular liking for one of Dhoni's most-trusted middle-overs weapon - Ravindra Jadeja. Chahar came back after a forgettable first spell and broke another budding partnership with Suryakumar Yadav's wicket. Even that didn't stop MI in their tracks, as Hardik Pandya toyed with Jadeja too, while Tiwary's solid cameo extended well past the halfway stage.

How did CSK bounce back?

Through what is going to be very crucial in games in Abu Dhabi - boundary fielding. Faf du Plessis was clutch with his catches that gave Jadeja two wickets in a single over and knocked winds out of MI's sails. Ngidi followed suit in making amends after an off-colour first spell and hit his lengths perfectly at the back end of the innings to serve the knockout punch on a rather groggy opposition. MI went from 121 for 3 to 162 for 9, with just 36 runs coming off the last five overs.

How was CSK's start to chase?

Abysmal. Both Trent Boult and James Pattinson got the ball to swing and also used their cutters well. The trend of poor opening stands continued for CSK, and they were down to 6 for 2. The Ambati Rayudu-Faf du Plessis pair rebuilt slowly as MI bowlers gave very little away in the first six overs.

What changed?

The arrival of dew.

MI bowlers had to work overtime on the ball with the towel but both Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya couldn't offer Rohit the all-important breakthrough in the middle-overs. On a surface that was not as tacky as it was in the first innings, the two CSK stalwarts felt right at home. Rayudu raised his bat to a 33-ball half-century, as the third-wicket partnership edged the game closer to peak CSK territory from where they often emerge on the winning side.

Jasprit Bumrah was off-colour and the Rayudu-Faf stand was worth more than 100. No twists in the tale then?

Incorrect. There was one in the 16th over when Chahar did well to run backwards and complete a high catch off his own bowling to end Rayudu's exceptional innings. With overs still left for MI's off-spinner Krunal Pandya, CSK sent in the left-handed Ravindra Jadeja ahead of Dhoni. The move didn't work though as Krunal sent Jadeja back with a quicker one angled into his pads and trapped him leg before.

Dhoni tried to trick again - by sending Sam Curran ahead of himself - and to great effect this time. Curran's five-ball cameo worth 18 dwarfed the equation down to 16 off 12. Bumrah capped off his bad day with figures of 1 for 43, with 11 of them coming in the 19th over. Du Plessis, who also reached his half-century in the 19th, sealed the win two fours off the first two balls from Trent Boult in the final over.

What next for the teams?

Mumbai Indians stay put in Abu Dhabi, and have a three-day gap before they take the field again - against two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders on September 23. CSK's next fixtures comes a day sooner on September 22 in Sharjah - against Rajasthan Royals.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 162/9 in 20 overs (Saurabh Tiwary 42; Lungi Ngidi 3-38, Deepak Chahar 2-32) beat Chennai Super Kings 166/5 in 19.2 overs (Ambati Rayudu 71, Faf du Plessis 58*; James Pattinson 1-27) by 5 wickets

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