If there has been one primary reason behind Chennai Super Kings' struggle this season, it has been their opening partnership and their scoring rate in the powerplays. The opening pair averaged only 13 heading into their fifth IPL 2020 game against Kings XI Punjab at the Dubai International Stadium. But later that same evening, the pair of Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson broke CSK's nine-year-old record for the highest partnership run in an IPL innings for any wicket, en route to the team's sensational win against Kings XI Punjab.
The pair got off to a sedate start in their chase after an impressive death-over return saw CSK restricting KXIP to 178. But when Chris Jordan, who was included to improve KXIP's death-over numbers, was introduced in the final over of the powerplays, Faf scored four boundaries off his last five balls. CSK ended the powerplays wicketless with 60 runs on the board, their highest in the phase this season going past their 53 for no loss in Sharjah against Rajasthan Royals.
The pair then took on the spin duo of Ravi Bishnoi and Harpreet Brar. Against the quicker deliveries from the Bishnoi, they managed to pull off only one boundary in his first over after powerplay before Watson scored a six and a four in his next. Harpreet was introduced following the same tactic with which Axar Patel was used by Delhi Capitals against CSK. But while Axar had got the better of Watson, Harpreet failed and was smashed for 22 runs in two overs.
The pair powered along and went past their half-century scores before stitching CSK's highest partnership run, breaking a nine-year-old record. CSK's previous best was for the opening wicket, in 2011, by Mike Hussey and Murali Vijay when they scored 159 against RCB in Chennai. It is also the highest partnership against KXIP for any wicket and the fourth-highest opening partnership in IPL history.
"Great that Watto (Shane Watson) got those runs as well for us, he's a big player in our side. I thought in the previous game we were good with the ball, but we didn't bat well. Today Watto was a big plus for us. A lot of guys haven't played cricket, so you hope that you strike form immediately. But when that doesn't happen, it does take a bit of time. Hopefully our guys find their best form over the next 3-4 games," said Faf after the emphatic 10-wicket win.