Ruturaj Gaikwad and Mukesh Choudhary marked their return to home turf in style while Devon Conway gave his Indian Premier League franchise a perfect return gift for his wedding to set up Chennai Super Kings’ facile win against Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday night at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
Riding on a record 182-run opening partnership — Super Kings’ highest-ever in the IPL, eclipsing the unbroken 181 by Shane Watson and Faf du Plessis versus Kings XI Punjab in Dubai in October 2020 — Super Kings plundered a mammoth 202 for two.
Choudhary then didn’t let his butter-fingers in the field – dropping a dolly offered by Abhishek Sharma off Maheesh Theekshana – wither his confidence with the ball. The left-arm pacer registered his best T20 figures to seal the deal.
Choudhary’s twin strikes off successive balls off the last two overs of the PowerPlay – Abhishek Sharma holing out to long-on and Rahul Tripathi doing the same to short third-man – gave Super Kings the advantage.
The pacer had to wait till the 18th for his hat-trick ball. Even though Shashank Singh thwacked him over mid-off to save the hat-trick, Choudhary struck twice in the same over.
The CSK spin trio of Ravindra Jadeja, Theekshana and Mitchell Santner, put in an impressive performance on a strip that offered turn. While Dhoni, the captain, used them for 10 overs combined, lack of a quality spinner haunted the Sunrisers, with the openers making merry against the pace.
Washington Sundar, the lone specialist spinner, injured his bowling hand in the fourth over while trying to stop a Ruturaj pull on the square-leg boundary in the fourth over. His absence forced Aiden Markram and Shashank Singh to share the four overs, and it cost Sunrisers 46 runs. But even before Conway went after the Protean, Ruturaj had waded into pace-bowling sensation Umran Malik.
The 13 deliveries Umran bowled to Ruturaj went for a whopping 33 runs, including two sixes and four fours. Though there was a streaky boundary over the ’keeper, Ruturaj dominated the pacer. The lofted drive through long-on was the highlight of the night.
Both Ruturaj and Conway had a lot to prove. While last year’s Orange Cap winner had done well just once in his eight visits to the crease this season, Conway got another opportunity after rejoining the squad last week.
Despite Ruturaj missing out on a deserving hundred by a solitary run and Conway running out of deliveries to get to the three-figure mark, the two would have been extremely pleased with the way things panned out.
They made the in-form pace quartet look ordinary with their clean striking. Both played copy-book strokes while denting the Sunrisers attack.
While Ruturaj slowed down after racing into the 70s in 12 overs, Conway, who was relatively quiet till then, took over. The Kiwi displayed his ability to clear the boundary as well as caress the ball through gaps.