IPL 2018: CSK’s Ngidi dashes Punjab’s playoff chances.

Johnson Cherian.
It was the sort of length that sows seeds of doubts in the batsman’s mind. He becomes a tad unsure about which way the ball will deviate, and his footwork turns tentative.
Indeed, deliveries on the old-fashioned good length from the pacemen consumed and threatened batsmen all night on a greenish pitch that offered seam movement.
Lungi Ngidi, running in smoothly, releasing the ball with that powerful front-on action of his, and seaming the ball both ways, hit this length more often than anyone else to scalp four for just 10 in four captivating overs on Sunday.
Crucially, he took out the in-form K.L. Rahul, who shouldered arms to a delivery that darted in from a good length.
Raina anchors chase
Then, in the chase of 154, the left-handed Suresh Raina (61 not out), playing the role of anchor to perfection and exploding at the finish, took Chennai Super Kings home, along with skipper M.S. Dhoni.
When Dhoni hooked Mohit Sharma for the maximum in the final over, Chennai Super Kings had beaten Kings XI Punjab by five wickets to finish second in the league and make it to Qualifier-1. Kings, needing to win by at least 53 runs to qualify ahead of Rajasthan Royals, was knocked out.
Tactically suave, Dhoni promoted Harbhajan Singh and Deepak Chahar. The ploy was to disrupt the pacemen’s rhythm, wait for the pitch to ease out and the dew to set in, lengthen CSK’s batting and go in for the final assault. The plan worked.
Both Harbhajan and Chahar, who impressed with his weighty blows, contributed usefully.
Much like Kings XI, Super Kings were dented at the start. The in-form Ambati Rayudu was snared outside off by Mohit and Faf du Plessis was taken low at slip by Chris Gayle off the impressive Ankit Rajpoot. Off the next ball, Sam Billings was done in by a lovely delivery that moved away just a shade. With CSK at 27 for three, Aaron Finch, diving across from second slip, put down Harbhajan off Rajpoot. It proved a costly miss.
Karun Nair (54, 26b) batted with skill and daring, moving across the stumps, pulling and driving over covers, and capping his effort with an audacious reverse flick off Bravo.
Earlier, Kings was rocked after being put in. Gayle ‘walked’ after getting a glove to an Ngidi delivery for Dhoni to do the rest down the leg-side. Chahar’s mean back-of-a-length delivery seamed away to find Finch’s edge and Raina flew to his left to bring off a spectacular catch in the slips.
And Raina was there at the end to finish things off.

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