The host Chennai came close to winning their third match of IPL 2018 in a row but their victory march was halted by Punjab in an brutal four-run win for the hosts in Mohali on Sunday. But what impressed CSK coach Stephen Fleming the most was the character his bowlers showed to come back and restrict KXIP to under 200.
Caribbean storm, who played his first match of this IPL season, Chris Gayle's brilliance 33-ball 63 runs and his 96-run opening partnership with KL Rahul put Punjab on course for a 200-plus total. However, a middle-order stutter, which included two wickets off consecutive balls by legspinner Imran Tahir, limited Punjab to 197/7. Tahir ended with figures of 2/34 while Shardul Thakur took 2/33. Dwayne Bravo, who bowled a miserly last over, took 1/37. Harbhajan Singh and Shane Watson took a wicket each.
Dhoni then almost pulled off a heist with his 79 not out in just 44 balls, but it didn't happen. "The character in the second half of our bowling innings was very good as we were able to get some wickets and create some pressure," said Fleming. "So I am really impressed and proud of the effort." Asked if there are any areas which CSK is looking to improve in the coming games, Fleming said, "I'd love a game where we bowl a team out for 140 and chase it down. But the competition is very even. Wickets at the top are important," he added.