Faf Du Plessis and Jonny Bairstow power Chennai and Hyderabad to crucial IPL wins
MUMBAI – Faf du Plessis and Jonny Bairstow led a day of blistering run scoring to guide Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad to key Indian Premier League wins on Wednesday.
South African veteran du Plessis hit an unbeaten 95 as three-time champions Chennai beat Kolkata by 18 runs to go top of the standings with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals.
England's Bairstow hit an unbeaten 63 off 56 balls to power Hyderabad to a confidence boosting nine-wicket win over Punjab Kings.
David Warner's Hyderabad were the last of the eight teams to register a victory in the Twenty20 spectacle.
Du Plessis shared an opening stand of 115 with Ruturaj Gaikwad who hit four sixes and six fours in his 64 at the start of what Kolkata captain Eoin Morgan called "a hell of a game of cricket".
He watched patiently as Moeen Ali smashed 25 off 12 balls and M.S. Dhoni made 17 runs off eight.
Du Plessis then took over, coming agonisingly close to a first IPL century before the overs ran out.
"It is the most fluent I have felt so far," he said of the innings that included four sixes and nine fours.
Chennai's 220 for three looked formidable, especially as Kolkata lost opener Shubman Gill first ball and slumped to 31 for five with seamer Deepak Chahar claiming four victims.
But Andre Russell hit 54 in 22 balls, including six sixes, and Dinesh Karthik made 40 off 24 and Kolkata were back in the game. Pat Cummins laid on an explosive tail end finale.
The Australian fast bowler passed 50 in 23 balls smashing all the Chennai bowlers around the ground.
England's Sam Curran conceded 30 in one demoralising over.
Kolkata needed 20 off the final over with Cummins on 66 off 34 balls with six sixes and four fours.
Their hopes were ended when Prasidh Krishna was run out on the first ball.
"It was a proper batsman's game," said Du Plessis who was named man of the match.
Bangalore take on injury-hit Rajasthan Royals on Thursday knowing that a fourth straight victory will put them back in charge of the IPL standings.
Punjab won the toss in the earlier game in Chennai and chose to bat but soon regretted the decision as they slumped to 63 for five and then 120 all out.
Mayank Agarwal and Shahrukh Khan were the top scorers with 22 each
Bairstow and Warner confidently attacked the modest total putting on 73 for the first wicket.
The Australian made 37 before leaving New Zealander Kane Williamson, back from an elbow injury for his first game of the season, to assist Bairstow to victory in 18.4 overs.
Bairstow said he was "over the moon" to get the first win.
"It has been a tricky start for us. We've been very close in most of the games, but we just haven't got over the line, probably a bit of carelessness to be honest."