WATSON POWERS BACK TO CHENNAI WINNING WAYS

The Chennai Super Kings returned to the top of the VIVO IPL 2019 standings after they defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by six wickets at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday night. The Super Kings’ chase of 176 was powered by Shane Watson’s stroke-filled 96; the hosts got over the line with one ball to spare.

The Super Kings lost opener Faf du Plessis in the third over, but the chase was put back on the trails almost straightaway by an 87-run stand between Watson and Suresh Raina. After Raina (38 from 24 balls, 6 fours, 1 six) was dismissed in the tenth over, Watson took control of proceedings. Playing at just over a run-a-ball, Watson timed his acceleration brilliantly, and helped himself to 96; he was unlucky to miss out on a well-deserved hundred, top-edging a short-pitched delivery off Bhuvneshwar Kumar with his team on the brink.

For the Sunrisers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1-18), Khaleel Ahmed (0-26) and Shakib al Hasan (0-27) were economical with the ball, while Sandeep Sharma (3.5-0-54-1) and Rashid Khan (1-44) had a poor day.

In the evening, the Sunrisers, asked to bat first, got to 175-3 riding on David Warner’s 57 (45 balls, 3 fours, 2 sixes) and Manish Pandey’s 83 not out. The visitors were without regular captain Kane Williamson, and therefore had to alter their XI; Shakib al Hasan and Manish Pandey made the playing XI.

After Jonny Bairstow ended his season with a second-ball duck, Warner and Pandey stitched together a 115-run partnership to put the innings back on track. Both batsmen matched each other stroke-for-stroke early on and helped SRH reach 54-1 at the end of the powerplay. The pair not only ran well between the wickets, but also kept picking up the boundaries regularly. Pandey brought up his half-century in the eleventh over – getting there in 25 balls, while Warner reached the milestone in the following over, getting there in 39 deliveries.

Warner was dismissed in the fourteenth over when he was beaten in the air by a tossed up delivery from Harbhajan Singh, and MS Dhoni whipped off the stumps pretty easily. It was that wicket – at 120-2 in 13.3 overs – that cost Sunrisers momentum. Despite a well-set Manish batting at one end, the Sunrisers could never hit the acceleration gear; they only managed 55 runs off the final 39 balls.

For the Super Kings, the wickets were shared between Harbhajan Singh (2-39) and Deepak Chahar (1-30).

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