The Chennai Super Kings have made defending low scores into an art in IPL 2015, but that art fell a little flat in Raipur against the Delhi Daredevils, who upset the title contenders with ease.
After choosing to bat first, the CSK batsmen failed to come to terms with and the wily Zaheer Khan (4-1-9-2) and the Raipur pitch, which had a bit of seam movement and plenty of help for the slower bowlers. The result of the struggle was a first innings score of just 119/6 in 20 overs.
With the required run rate at a mere six for DD, the chase was always going to be comfortable enough, with Shreyas Iyer (70 n.o., 10x4, 1x6) guiding the team home with 20 balls and six wickets to spare.
CSK were always going to come hard at DD in the low chase, and it looked like there just might be a real contest on as Quinton De Kock and JP Duminy both fell to Ishwar Pandey, who also managed to push through a wicket-maiden in his spell of 4-1-27-2.
However, despite losing those quick wickets, Iyer, one of the few bright points for DD this season, continued to play his shots, which in turn reduced the pressure on Yuvraj Singh at the other end.
Yuvraj (32, 28b, 4x4, 1x6) also slowly came into his own after an iffy start, and even if he gave his wicket away to Pawan Negi in the 14th over, the result was never in doubt by then.
Earlier, Zaheer was the king of the Raipur pitch, showing there is still plenty of gas left in that tank to completely shut out one of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket – Brendon McCullum. With McCullum (11, 21b, 1x4) nullified, CSK managed just 16/1 in the Powerplay – the third lowest ever in IPL history.
Dwayne Smith hardly helped matters either, playing out 16 dot balls, including the first six of the match, in his 23-ball 18, with Suresh Raina also failing to trouble the DD bowlers.
CSK only got to that 119 thanks to a 37-run partnership between Faf Du Plessis and MS Dhoni, who was far and away the most popular player in the stadium and the main reason behind the Super Kings having the majority support on DD's supposed home ground.
Du Plessis was the most fluent of the CSK batsmen, but got out at the wrong time, playing on to Albie Morkel (3-0-21-2), and once Dhoni fell to Zaheer off the first ball of the 19th over, any hopes of getting to that 140 mark was gone, and with it also the match.