The wait for MS Dhoni fans to see the man in action once again was worth it as his side Chennai Super Kings exacted revenge on defending champions Mumbai Indians of last year’s final defeat in IPL 2020 season opener in Abu Dhabi on Saturday.
Chasing a decent target of 163, Ambati Rayudu quietly joined the party to turn it into his own by smashing a 48-ball 71 runs (three 6s and four boundaries) to take the game away from the Rohit Sharma-led side at the fan-less Sheikh Zayed stadium. (Match Scorecard)
The 34-year-old right-hander was duly supported in the chase by no.3 Faf du Plessis, who held one to other end to score 54 runs off 43 balls after the CSK top-order collapsed within the first two overs.
Former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson (4 off 5) was the first to fall to Trent Boult, who hit the Aussies backfoot plum with an inswinger.
Opener Murali Vijay, who seemed like a fish out of the water with his shaky footwork, was trapped lbw by James Pattinson from the other end for a solitary run.
This was followed by a match-setting 84-ball 115-run stand between Rayudu and du Plessis.
The duo kept the scoreboard ticking with big hits at a canter, especially from Rayudu who started off by taking on Jasprit Bumrah in his very first over. Mumbai Indians also got to blame themselves for not putting on a decent show on the field as ground fielding seemed rusty with crucial catches being dropped as well.
Spinners Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar too didn’t enjoy the best of days as the duo gave away runs at an economy rate of 9-plus despite taking one scalp each.
The breakthrough only came at the end of 16th over when Rayudu was caught by Chahar of his own bowling with CSK needing 41 runs from last 10 overs.
MI had the joy of picking two more quick wickets of Ravindra Jadeja (10 off 5) and Sam Curran (18 off 6) but the duo’s aggressive attitude meant it was too little too late. Faf ensured the victory in the final over after hitting two boundaries of the first two deliveries by Boult as Dhoni remained not out at nought at the other end.
Earlier in the first innings, Dhoni’s astute captaincy was backed up by some brilliant bowling at the back end as CSK restricted Mumbai Indians to 162 for nine in the opening IPL game here on Saturday.
CSK's new recruits -- leg-spinner Piyush Chawla (1/21 in 4 overs) and left-arm seamer Curran (1/28 in 4 overs) -- made a fantastic first impression while Lungi Ngidi (3/38 in 4 overs) and Deepak Chahar (2/32 in 4 overs) came back brilliantly at the death overs.
For MI, Quinton de Kock (33 off 20 balls, 5x4) and Saurabh Tiwary (42 off 31 balls, 3x4, 1x6) played well, but couldn't convert their starts as the defending champions got only 76 runs in their back-10.
De Kock started in a blazing fashion and launched straight into Chahar and Ngidi as 45 came off the first four overs.
The shrewd Dhoni then introduced Chawla into the attack and he right away dismissed Rohit Sharma (12) who always have had a problem with wrist spinners.
It was a straight delivery that Rohit was trying to hit inside out but couldn't get past Curran at the mid-off circle.
The seamer was back in action as he got rid of De Kock with a well disguised off-cutter, which the batman hit straight to Shane Watson at mid-wicket.
Suryakumar Yadav (17) and Tiwary added 44 to steady the ship but some good outfielding in the back-10 from the likes of Curran and Faf du Plessis had MI struggling at 124 for five from 92 for two.
As an anchor, Tiwary proved to be a decent choice as he hit the first six off this year's IPL, off Ravindra Jadeja.
Someone who promised a lot was Hardik Pandya (14 off 10 balls), with a couple of lusty sixes off Jadeja, but then Chawla bowled an ideal length to keep him quiet.
Jadeja was rewarded when Hardik tried to hit a third six instead of rotating the strike and was caught at the boundary by Du Plessis.
(With inputs from PTI)