In choosing to bat first and opening with Sam Curran–the left-hander scoring 22 in the fourth over–Chennai Super Kings (CSK) showed intent. In Ambati Rayudu stepping out in dancing shoes, there was intent. In Shane Watson attacking Rashid Khan, there was intent. CSK had to show some because the last time they lost five of their first seven games, in 2010, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) weren’t in business and Shane Warne was, as a player. (IPL 2020 Full Coverage)
The celebrations after Dwayne Bravo ran out Manish Pandey, those when Curran got David Warner and the exhortations that bounced off the empty rafters showed how much Tuesday’s game against SRH meant to CSK. When Ravindra Jadeja, whose batting mixed placements and power, dismissed Jonny Bairstow, it felt like home conditions for CSK: the wicket was slow and aiding spin.
The one person standing between CSK and the win was New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson. He opened with a square-drive, ran hard and after 36 balls without a four, hit a couple of sumptuous boundaries off Jadeja. Williamson looked comfortable getting to his half-century but holed out with SRH needing 46 off the last three.
Faf du Plessis scored his first duck since 2014; CSK lost wickets in clumps at the end but still managed 167/6 because Rayudu (41; 34b; 3×4; 2×6) and Watson (42; 38b; 1×4, 3×6) added 81 for the third wicket and Jadeja made 25 off 10. On another evening, Rayudu and Watson could have been caught off Shahbaz Nadeem and Sandeep Sharma could have rivalled Nicolas Pooran’s gravity-defying acrobatics by catching MS Dhoni. But from start to finish, where Shardul Thakur gave five runs in the 19th over and Bravo one in the 20th on way to the 20-run win, this was CSK’s evening. The last time they had won two from seven, they emerged IPL champions.