Chennai Super Kings (CSK) marched to the top of the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table with a comfortable 97-run victory over Kings XI Punjab in their league match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Saturday.
The home team always had the upper hand after winning the toss and opting to take first strike, posting a formidable 192 for three. Set a target of 193, Punjab were never in contention during their run chase. Their batting collapsed spectacularly to ultimately manage a paltry 95 for nine.
With the win, CSK took the summit spot in the standings via a superior run rate with 10 points from six matches overtaking Rajasthan Royals (10 from seven games). Punjab dropped to the bottom spot with just four points from six outings.
Punjab needed a strong start to have any chance of chasing the big total, but they began on the wrong foot, losing star man Virender Sehwag (1) in the fifth ball of their innings.
That marked the beginning of their downfall as they lost wickets at regular intervals to be reduced to 40 for three in 6.3 overs and then a precarious 69 for seven in 12.2 overs.
None of the batsmen of Punjab, which boasts of big names like Australian duo of Shaun Marsh (10) and skipper George Bailey (1), settled at the crease as the CSK bowlers made merry.
Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (2/14) and Ravindra Jadeja (3/22) were at the peak of their powers, snaring crucial wickets to set their team on its way to a comprehensive victory. They were well supported by veteran pacer Ashish Nehra, who grabbed two wickets for 16 runs.
Earlier, an aggressive batting display from the hosts helped them post a strong score of 192 for three.
CSK won the toss and chose to bat. And skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's decision was justified by the performance of their batsmen.
The opening duo of Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum started in top gear and piled the pressure quickly on the Punjab bowlers, putting up 50 runs on the board in just 4.4 overs.
Even Smith's (26 runs off 13 balls) departure, after a cameo knock punctuated by three fours and two sixes, didn't slow down the momentum.
McCullum (66 off 44) took over the reins of brisk run-scoring and together with Suresh Raina put up a 66 run second-wicket stand.
Their task was made easier by the Punjab men who were sloppy on the field, dropping several catches.
That put CSK in a strong position of launching into an all-out attack in the death overs when McCullum perished after bludgeoning eight fours and three sixes with the score at 116 for two in 12.1 overs.
Dhoni (41 off 27) ensured they his team had a grand stand finish entertaining the crowd with some lusty blows towards the end.