Half-centuries from Chennai Super Kings openers Faf Du Plessis (87*) and Shane Watson (83*) stole the show on Sunday night in the 18th match of IPL 2020 as the MS Dhoni-led side picked up a massive 10-wicket win over the Kings XI Punjab in Dubai.
The Super Kings came into this clash on the back of three losses from their first four games of IPL 2020, and a lot of chatter was around the batting unit needing to stand tall and score big.
That's exactly what transpired as Watson, and his opening partner du Plessis was at their attacking best, making optimum use of the poor line and length from the KXIP bowlers.
CSK did have an uncharacteristic start - purely with reference to IPL 2020 - to their 179-run target chase though, with Faf du Plessis and Shane Watson finding the boundaries at ease right from the word go.
The opening duo collected 60 runs off the first six overs, getting their side off to a very promising start as the two teams went into the first timeout of the second essay.
Watson and du Plessis continued on their merry ways post the timeout as well, with the burly Australian opener particularly targeting the inexperienced spin duo of Ravi Bishnoi and Harpreet Brar.
At the halfway stage, CSK remained unscathed at 101/0, needing a further 78 runs from 60 deliveries. Birthday boy Chris Jordan did not have the greatest of games by any stretch of imagination, leaking 30 runs off this two overs, with Watson and du Plessis reaching their half-centuries in the 11th over bowled by the Englishman.
Rahul looked bereft of ideas as the CSK duo motored along without any hiccups, and the only solace KXIP had was the strategic timeout with the MS Dhoni-led side needing 44 runs off the last six overs.
Post the timeout, Watson and du Plessis continued to pepper the boundaries and milked singles and doubles, eventually carrying their bat through to bring about a whopping 10-wicket win with 14 balls to spare.
KXIP skipper Rahul won the toss and opted to bat first, but the in-form Punjab opening duo could not maximize the fielding restrictions, scoring just 46 runs from the first six overs.
With boundaries hard to come by, Mayank Agarwal's attempt to up the ante saw him pulling a nothing ball from Piyush Chawla straight into the hands of Sam Curran at deep mid-wicket on the first ball of the 8th over.
Mandeep Singh - one of the three KXIP players drafted into the side, along with Chris Jordan and Harpreet Brar - walked in at No.3, and carted Chawla for a couple of sixes in the 11th over to swing the momentum towards his side.
However, Ravindra Jadeja removed Mandeep for a 16-ball 27 on the last ball of the 12th over which brought Nicholas Pooran out to the crease. The Rahul-Pooran duo took a special liking for some poor fielding and shoddy bowling from CSK to put up a 58-run stand from 30 balls, only for Shardul Thakur to remove both of them in consecutive balls.
Thakur had Pooran skying one to Jadeja on the first ball of the 18th over, while Rahul edged a wide yorker to MS Dhoni. The twin wickets had a big impact as Sarfaraz Khan and Glenn Maxwell could combine to score just 26 runs off the last three overs, with KXIP finishing on 178/4 from their 20 overs.
IPL 2020: CSK v KXIP, Who won man of the match yesterday?
Before the match against KXIP, Shane Watson had scored only 52 runs from the first four games, and calls were getting louder for his exclusion from the side if he were to fail in one more game.
However, it seemed as if Watson wanted to prove his naysayers wrong, and what's more interesting is that he had predicted a 'perfect' game for CSK.
Watson and du Plessis put on an exhibition of clean and powerful hitting in CSK's chase, with the former getting off to a fantastic start which eased the pressure on his partner.
The Australian brought up his half-century in just 31 balls and continued to pile misery on the KXIP bowlers, eventually finishing with a 53-ball 83* laced with 11 fours and three sixes at a strike rate of 156.60.
And, for his stellar knock that helped CSK get out of the last position on the IPL 2020 points table, Shane Watson was named as the Man of the Match in yesterday's game.Published 04 Oct 2020, 23:54 IST