From a precarious 52 for three, Punjab recovers to chase down a target of 206

Chennai Super Kings’ imposing 205 for four failed to intimidate Kings XI Punjab, who chased down the total with six wickets in hand and seven balls to spare in their Indian Premier League match at the Zayed cricket stadium on an oppressive Friday afternoon.

Drifting dangerously at 52 for three early into the chase, the hour of reckoning produced the man for the crisis in the form of Glenn Maxwell, whose 43-ball 95 brought the Kings well within range of what had once seemed a distant target.

That he came equipped for his mission was soon evident when he began by contemptuously clumping Ashwin in a reverse sweep, quite unfazed by the offie’s wile and guile.

There was little to stop the wiry Aussie thereafter and with David Miller he forged a thriving, if not a productive, partnership. Plundering 15 boundaries and a brace of big blows over the ropes, Maxwell set the tone for Miller.

The South African didn’t disappoint either, his unbeaten 37-ball 54 adorned by three hits each to and over the fence.

Sehwag gave glimpses of his glory days, a couple of his commanding cover drives ripping to the ropes.

That sweet stint was short-lived though, castled as he was through the gates by his Delhi Ranji teammate Ashish Nehra. Fellow opener Pujara fell soon after, foxed by Ashwin.

The tricky tweaker then trapped Akshar Patel too in front.

Earlier, Dhoni read the coin flip right and chose to bat, a move well vindicated right from the start of the Chennai innings.

Openers Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum gave the southern side a sizzling start, bringing up the hundred even before the halfway stage had been reached.

The twosome made the torrid temperatures on the wrong side of 30s seem trifling as they pillaged the pacemen and spinners, comprising a six-stringed attack, with equal ease.

Beach-bodied Brendon made even the mighty Mitchell Johnson seem ordinary, nonchalantly swatting the tearaway through square for the first of his five sixes.

If there was a lull after McCullum’s departure, caught by Maxwell at deep mid-wicket, his partner Smith continued from where the explosive Kiwi had left off.

Smiting sixes off Maxwell and Johnson, the Barbadian took Balaji on the full for another heave but holed out instead to Bailey at short cover. The soft spot for the six persisted, as captain cool smacked Balaji over the sight screen and Bravo belted the same bowler over the cover boundary.

Scoreboard

Chennai Super Kings: D. Smith c Bailey b Balaji 66 (43b, 6x4, 3x6), B. McCullum c Maxwell b Akshar 67 (45b, 4x4, 5x6), S. Raina c Sehwag b Awana 24 (19b, 2x4), M.S. Dhoni c Dhawan b Balaji 26 (11b, 3x4, 1x6), D. Bravo (not out) 8 (3b, 1x6); Extras (lb-2, w-11, nb-1): 14; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 205.

Fall of wickets: 1-123 (McCullum), 2-161 (Smith), 3-185 (Raina), 4-205 (Dhoni).

Kings XI Punjab bowling: Akshar 4-0-34-1, Awana 3-0-35-1, Johson 4-0-47-0, Balaji 4-0-43-2, Dhawan 3-0-21-0, Maxwell 2-0-23-0.

Kings XI Punjab: C. Pujara lbw b Ashwin 13 (10b, 2x4), V. Sehwag b Nehra 19 (10b, 4x4), G. Maxwell b Smith 95 (43b, 15x4, 2x6), A. Patel lbw b Ashwin 2, D. Miller (not out) 54 (37b, 3x4, 3x6), George Bailey (not out) 17 (10b, 2x4); Extras (b-1, w-5): 6; Total (for four wkts. in 18.5 overs): 206.

Fall of wickets: 1-31 (Sehwag), 2-38 (Pujara), 3-52 (Akshar), 4-167 (Maxwell).

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Nehra 3-0-24-1, Mohit 2.5-0-35-0, Ashwin 4-0-41-2, Negi 3-0-37-0, Jadeja 4-0-43-0, Smith 2-0-25-1.

Man-of-the-Match: G. Maxwell.