IPL 2018, CSK vs SRH: The opening partnership between Rayudu and Watson is SK Turning Point
Chennai Super Kings all but assured their place in the playoffs by comfortably defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad by 8 wickets in Pune today.
The Super Kings won the toss and decided to field first. SRH lost Alex Hales early but Shikhar Dhawan and skipper Kane Williamson batted brilliantly and added a partnership of 123 from 75 balls for the second wicket to put them in a commanding position.
Towards the end of the innings, Deepak Hooda did some pinch hitting to take the 2016 champions to 179/4 from their 20 overs.
As usual, Shane Watson and Ambati Rayudu opened the innings for CSK. The first two overs of the CSK innings saw Shane Watson showing some occasional aggression. In the 3rd over, however, Watson smashed two back to back sixes off Sandeep Sharma's bowling.
By the end of the powerplay, the duo added 53 runs and Watson was looking the aggressor, scoring 34 from 20 balls while Rayudu scored 19 from 16.
Rayudu began showing some aggressive intent after the powerplay overs, smashing 16 runs off Siddharth Kaul in the 7th over. Then on, Rayudu took over the role of the relative aggressor while Watson made the most of whenever he was given the strike.
Both players reached their fifties and CSK were sailing towards victory. Except for Rashid Khan, all the SRH bowlers were nothing but clueless. The pair added 134 runs from 75 deliveries for the first wicket.
Their glorious partnership came to an end when Rayudu and Watson chanced a quick single in the 14th over but the latter wasn't quick enough and was run out after scoring 57 from 35 deliveries.
Sunrisers got the wicket of Suresh Raina shortly after but by then, it was too little too late. Rayudu continued to bat brilliantly till the end of the innings and went on to score his first IPL century, the fourth of this tournament and the 47th in IPL history. Rayudu ended with 100 from 62 deliveries.
Rayudu was given some fine support by skipper MS Dhoni who came in to bat at number four. Dhoni scored 20 from 14 deliveries. Chennai eventually won the match with 8 wickets and an over to spare.
The win did not change either of CSK or SRH's position on the table but it put the former in a very safe situation. The opening partnership between Rayudu and Watson was the deciding factor in CSK's win because that kept on adding more and more pressure on the highly rated SRH bowling attack.
Sunrisers Hyderabad will now travel to Bangalore to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore while Chennai Super Kings will travel to Delhi to take on the already eliminated Daredevils on Friday.