Bravo, Bowlers Smother Kings XI

Seven. That is the number of times Kings XI Punjab had been bowled out before tonight. None of them has been for below 100. Their revamped top six seemed to have cracked Twenty20 batting. Tonight though, their firepower was doused by a relentless bowling performance from Chennai Super Kings. There were four ducks, only five batsmen could muster double-figures and the match turned out to be a brutally one-sided affair that culminated in Super Kings making their seventh final.

Their trophy cabinet had last been updated three years ago and MS Dhoni wanted his side to convert the opportunities they create. He was just as conscious of wanting his batsmen to assess the pitch and react accordingly. Dwayne Bravo took his captain's words to heart.

He did not have a solid base to work from, having come in with the score at 41 for 3. Steadying the innings was the priority and that was taken care of by a 65-run partnership with Faf du Plessis.

Then Kings XI forced the innings to repair with Parvinder Awana's hat-trick, that was capped with the wicket of MS Dhoni for a first-ball duck in the 17th over. The score was a healthy 141 but a major source of acceleration had been muted and Bravo was left with much of the finishing duties too. He changed his game to suit that need as well. He slashed, drove, cut and flicked to score 67 of only 39 balls and was the primary reason Super Kings managed 182 for 7.

Kings XI would not have been perturbed by that target. George Bailey, their captain, had said the pitch was "beautiful." It received similar plaudits ahead over the evening game as well. But when play got underway, it showed itself to be on the slower side. Strokeplay would not be unduly difficult though and Kings XI have hunted 180-plus totals nine out of 11 times. However, adding to that tally is difficult when you lose four wickets inside the Powerplay.

Ashish Nehra and Mohit Sharma delivered a telling spell. They did not threaten with undue pace. There was barely any swing on offer. The only thing they could do was be accurate. Their efforts were underpinned by a ruthless display on the field. Brendon McCullum dived low to his left to pull off a screamer to knock over Virender Sehwag for nought. Du Plessis, having been teased twice before, successfully tracked down a skier from the other opener Manan Vohra. Wriddhiman Saha wore a nasty hit on the helmet before losing his off stump. And Glenn Maxwell feathered a short ball down the leg side.

Kings XI tumbled from 24 for 4 to 34 for 6 in the eighth over. David Miller was left to tackle an abominable equation of 149 needed off 75 balls. It was far too much of an ask, especially with Super Kings' wealth of spinners and Kings XI were bowled out for their second-lowest total.

"It was the complete game," Dhoni said. He, Brendon McCullum, Dwayne Smith and Suresh Raina had totaled only 26 runs between them. By the end of the night that only highlighted how strong Super Kings had been.

(Cricinfo)



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