Yet another edge-of-the-seat thriller from the top drawer ended with Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) warding off an MS Dhoni hurricane and finishing on the winning side in their clash against Chennai Super Kings (CSK) by four runs. With 197 on the board, Kings XI were favourites to seal the game but encountered quite a few hiccups defending the target, although they eventually managed to come out on top.
Here is a report card of the performance of all 22 players from the match.
Chris Gayle - 10/10
The 'Universe Boss' returned to a huge roar from the Mohali crowd as Ravichandran Ashwin announced his inclusion in the squad and went on to treat the fans to a special innings as he bludgeoned his way to a 33-ball 63, enabling Kings XI to kick off their innings pompously.
MS Dhoni - 10/10
Stuck with a huge ask after Rayudu’s run-out, Dhoni decided to take things into his own hands and went about dismantling Kings XI’s bowling attack with utter ease despite nursing an injury. With 17 needed of the last over, Dhoni couldn’t quite get past a wily Mohit Sharma and ended up on the losing side, but without him the contest would have sorely lacked the kick.
Ambati Rayudu - 9/10
With the Chennai innings completely off track, Rayudu stood firm amidst the early ruins and collected 49 off 35 balls. He seemed like the only Chennai batsman to get a hang of things until Dhoni decided to go into vintage mode.
KL Rahul - 8/10
Even with the Gayle machine on fire, Rahul managed to eclipse the West Indian in terms of strike rate for a large part of the early stage of the partnership. That in itself shows how big a presence the former RCB batsman has been for KXIP this season. Rahul, though, couldn't quite convert his exceptional start to a bigger score.
Ravichandran Ashwin - 8/10
Quite impressive as a skipper, Ashwin brought in Gayle for the right game and played his other cards wisely against his former teammates. He sent down four well-controlled overs, brilliantly reviewed an LBW against Sam Billings and also effected a direct hit to get rid of a settled Rayudu.
Mujeeb Ur Rahman - 7/10
Well and truly KXIP's trump card this season, young Mujeeb once again sent down few tight overs but strangely never completed his quota of overs despite being the most economical of his mates by a long distance.
Karun Nair - 6/10
No 6 seems way too low a position for Nair to bat in, but in a short trailer on Sunday, the triple centurion in Test cricket shed his inhibitions and played a few eye-catching shots in a 19-ball 30. The Karnataka batsman, though, would want to have more time in the middle.
Mayank Agarwal - 5/10
After a stupendous domestic season, much was expected of Mayank Agarwal. He was pushed up to open the innings with Rahul in the two games while Gayle warmed the bench, but couldn't quite grab his chances. At No 3 on Sunday, he did slightly better although the free flowing version of Agarwal that was on display in the Vijay Hazare Trophy seems to have vanished.
Imran Tahir - 5/10
The South African leg-spinner is an underrated T20 bowler, but seemed like CSK’s only go-to option when the runs kept flowing. He came back strong from a 17-run over to concede less than 6 per over in the remaining three he bowled and also accounted for the wickets of Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch off consecutive balls.
Ravindra Jadeja - 5/10
Bizarrely left out while bowling, Jadeja had the crucial role of supporting Dhoni in the run chase and did fairly well as he put Dhoni on strike often enough apart from tonking a huge six off Mohit. It is, however, surprising that he has been batting above Dwayne Bravo in the last two games.
Dwayne Bravo - 5/10
Bravo's mixed luck with the ball continued as he sent down two expensive overs before bowling a breathtaking final over of which just four runs were scored. The West Indian all-rounder should probably stick to what works best for him in the final few overs.
Mohit Sharma - 4/10
Irrespective of his figures prior to the last over, the fact that Mohit contained an in-the-zone Dhoni — defending 17 off the last over — deserves credit. The experienced seamer would, however, want to rein in on that economy rate.
Shane Watson - 4/10
The reason why Shane atson was kept back when Gayle was running amock would probably never be known but the Australian eventually silenced Mohali with the wicket of the big fish. The confidence boost, though, did not translate into a good performance with the bat.
Shardul Thakur - 4/10
Shardul Thakur continued to make a mess of his early overs as he conceded 14 of his first before redeeming himself with a six-run over that also included the wicket of Yuvraj Singh. However, he ended his spell with another 13-run over much to the annoyance of CSK fans.
Barinder Sran - 3/10
Kings XI brought in Sran for this encounter hoping to find some early swing and seam from the left-arm fast bowler, but the capped Indian seamer disappointed as he sent down four wicket-less overs at a less-than-impressive economy.
Yuvraj Singh - 3/10
When picking Yuvraj at the auctions, Kings XI would have hoped for him to make a big impact with the bat in the middle-order, much akin to his earlier exploits for the franchise. However, going by early evidence, that seems a rather bleak possibility. The Indian southpaw had yet another failure in the middle-order as he edged Thakur to Dhoni while attempting an upper cut.
Harbhajan Singh - 3/10
The experienced off-spinner was Chennai’s trump card against Chris Gayle, but with unimaginative bowling, Harbhajan let his skipper down and allowed Gayle to settle into his groove. Though he bowled two reasonable overs and picked up Rahul's wicket, in the remaining two overs, he leaked runs at the rate of knots.
Deepak Chahar - 2/10
There is something reassuring about Deepak Chahar and his bowling, but little of that was on display after an impressive first over that went for just five. He got caught in the Gayle-storm and ended up with horrendous figures of 0/37 from three overs.
Sam Billings - 2/10
After heroically lifting CSK to an unlikely win against Kolkata Knight Riders, Sam Billings appeared a touch befuddled against the spinners and was eventually trapped in front by Ashwin.
Andrew Tye - 2/10
Andrew Tye picked up a couple of wickets, one (Murali Vijay) notably with a knuckle ball, but bowled a poor penultimate over to Dhoni where he seemed to have forgotten his pace variations. Bowling length to the former Indian skipper is forbidden but that's exactly what Tye did while giving his impressive slower balls a miss.
Murali Vijay - 1/10
The opener made a return to a franchise where he has had a lot of success stories but holed out to mid-off trying to loft Andrew Tye off a knuckle ball. With Raina due to return after two games, Vijay may not get a whole lot of games to seal his place in the side.
Aaron Finch - 1/10
The move to fit in Aaron Finch in the middle-order is a good one but the Australian registered his second successive golden duck since returning from his wedding as he was struck in front by a Tahir googly.