After Jaydev Unadkat had a field day against DC on Thursday, it was Deepak Chahar's turn to wreck havoc as he claimed a four-fer to break the back of PBKS and restrict them to 106. There was no twist in the tale unlike the last few games as Moeen Ali led a comfortable chase for the Men in Yellow.
Where Punjab Kings lost the game
Powerplay. Finishing with 26-4 in the first six overs and losing KL Rahul, Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran was where the game was lost for Punjab. There was help for bowlers, Deepak Chahar did bowl well, however, it wasn't a minefield and there were some poor shots played by KL Rahul's side that put them on the backfoot right from the powerplay. From there on, they could never recover.
Mayank Agarwal's downward spiral
From being one of India's best Test batsmen, a highly promising white-ball opening back-up, Mayank Agarwal's stock has been on the decline in the last few months. He was first axed from the India's Test XI, then overlooked from the T20I series against England without getting chances in the format, and now has started off the IPL on the worst note possible. What makes his failures more glaring is the fact that he has not turned up at one of the flatter centers in the country, Wankhede. With scores of 0 and 14, the Punjab opener has been disappointing for someone of his experience and class. There are no two ways about the peach of a delivery he got from Deepak Chahar today, but after having earned plaudits for opening the batting in red-ball cricket, he's supposed to anticipate these swinging traps better. Mayank's IPL struggles had finally come to an end last year, and he made it really big, but it's the need of the hour for him to back it up with another solid season and prove to the world that it wasn't an outlier, especially, at times, where there are no death of options for opening in the Indian set-up.
The Deepak Chahar show
Prior to this game, Deepak Chahar, in the last 15 IPL innings, had merely taken seven wickets with an average of 42.9 and a strike-rate of 34.3 in the Powerplay overs. His reputation as a new ball enforcer had started going down, while many suggested that he had lost his swinging abilities. But cometh the game versus Punjab Kings, a side that had literally butchered RR's bowling last game at the Wankhede, Deepak Chahar, making full use of a sticky wicket, made KL Rahul's men dance to his tunes. The spell was a masterclass as to how to make the most of the brand new white-cherry and had everything in it. A remarkable outswinger to open up Mayank and beat him up all ends, an outfoxing knuckle-ball to outdo Gayle for pace, a surprise bouncer banged in the pitch hard to induce a false pull shot of Pooran's bat and then an aggressive full ball to cash in on the momentum and get a loose drive and the wicket of Deepak Hooda. Chahar set-up the game, finishing his four overs in one go, claiming four wickets for 13 runs and conceded just 3.2 RPO. Crazy, eh? It was a roaring statement from Chahar that he's only going to fight back stronger, the tougher the competition for places becomes in the Indian cricket.
Moeen Ali's remarkable intent
Intent, or I should say, lack of intent, was one of the biggest issues for CSK last season. In this year's auctions, they made sure to add up some pretty decent batting options to their side. As a result, their batting depth is there for everyone to see. And most importantly, their use of Moeen Ali has been brilliant. The southpaw has been used at the no.3 position and he has been highly impressive as he has thrown caution to the wind and batted aggressively. He followed up his 24-ball-36 against DC, with another useful knock today. When he arrived at the crease, CSK were 24 for 1, and were scratchy in a meager chase of 107 runs. But, coming out at 3, Moeen injected positivity to CSK's batting as he started with a couple of boundaries against Riley Meredith to ease off pressure, if there was any. And throughout his stay at the crease, he took the attack to the bowlers and ensured that there was no let-ups or nerves from CSK's side.
Get in Moises Henriques for one of the foreign pacers
Punjab Kings will play their next game at the Wankhede as well before they move ahead to Chennai for two games. Now, both these wickets have had a lot of assistance for bowlers. And keeping that in mind, and the requirements of the team, Punjab Kings can draft Moises Henriques in the middle-order. They already have great specialist bowling options in Arshdeep Singh, Mohammed Shami, M Ashwin and Jhye Richardson. Last year, they had extensively used Glenn Maxwell as a part-time option and someone like Henriques fits that bill. Not to forget, Chris Gayle and Deepak Hooda can also roll over their arms. Moises Henriques' inclusion will provide the much needed depth to their batting which they are lacking right now as Richardson bats at no.7. The veteran all-rounder has been in phenomenal form this year and is averaging 38.8 with a strike-rate of 155 in T20s with the willow in hand. He will provide a lot of solidity and experience to the middle-order. Besides, he's someone, who bowls deceptive cutters, that can come real handy on these sticky wickets. All in all, he's a great package and can deliver exactly what the team needs right now.
The MVP - Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar bowled terrifically well and blew away the PBKS' batting line-up like a pack of cards. KL Rahul and co. had no answers whatsoever to Chahar's four-over spell, wherein, he scalped four wickets and left Punjab tottering at 26/5. Post that, PBKS were forced to play the catch-up game and they could merely post 106 runs on the board, the worst first innings total of this season.
Match Frenzy O Meter - MEH!
Let's be honest, as much as we all want bowlers to be in play, when low-scoring games start taking place frequently, like it has in the last few days, it starts becoming monotonous. Chennai's specialty is to produce slow-wickets and that's what makes it special, but now, if Mumbai also starts doing so, it isn't the most joyful sight. And to top it off, PBKS put up a horrible show with the bat and after Chahar's spell, it was a one-sided game, hardly creating much buzz and the fans had plenty of moments to doze off.