If ever there was a case of running out of breath, it was this.
Yuvraj Singh can win matches with an asking rate of 10 in the last five overs a good number of times, but not on Monday at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.
The left-hander, who scored his only World Cup century here about a month back, just couldn’t find his magic touch and Chennai Super Kings reaped the harvest. Yuvi huffed and puffed to 34 off 43 balls as Pune Warriors fell 26 runs short of the 143-run target after having the upper hand for a major part of the match.
Yuvi survived a plumb leg-before decision, missed full-tosses, missed out on singles at a time when it seemed that the left-hander could run away with the game. Dhoni knew if his Team India lieutenant got going, there was no chance at all. But the canny skipper also understood that Yuvi was struggling in the Chennai humidity and he made sure that the boundaries were not given away.
The CSK fielders had a brilliant day in the field, saving boundaries out of nowhere and made Pune fight for every run. And it was fitting that Shadab Jakati pulled off a blinder at mid-off in the 19th over to bring an end to Yuvi’s painful stay at the wicket.
The CSK bowlers too stuck to their task with Albie Morkel finding some bowling form to finish with figures of 3-26. Offies R Ashwin and Suraj Randiv, too, were right on the money as the Warriors struggled in the modest chase.
Earlier, things looked like going downhill for CSK after a bright start. Openers M Vijay (31, 29b, 2×4, 1×6) and Michael Hussey (61, 48b, 4×6, 1×6) put up 64 for the first wicket but once the partnership was broken, the momentum was lost. Pune Warriors’ veteran South African allrounder Alfonso Thomas (4-0-29-2) made sudden inroads to remove Vijay and Suresh Raina in quick succession. The damage was done and CSK, despite a solid performance by Hussey, could only manage 142 for 6.
For Pune, Jerome Taylor (4-0-30-3) too came to party to take Hussey’s wicket and the final flourish never happened for CSK. The pitch was a little on the slower side and it was a strategic move by the CSK openers to keep wickets in hands. 66 was the lowest total in the first 10 overs for the defending champions, but one would have expected them to carry on once they got set.