Faf du Plessis and Deepak Chahar produced fine displays as Chennai Super Kings just held on to beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 18 runs in an Indian Premier League thriller.

Super Kings moved top of the IPL table with their third consecutive win, while it is now three straight defeats for KKR, all coming while chasing.

Du Plessis scored 95 not out at Wankhede Stadium as Super Kings set KKR a daunting target of 221.

The South African put on 115 for the opening wicket with Ruturaj Gaikwad (64) and added 50 with Moeen Ali (25), remaining at the crease until the innings ended with the score at 220-3.

Chahar (4-29) took four wickets for the second time in three outings, with KKR's top order crumbling as they fell to 31-5 within the first six overs, though CSK's victory was nowhere near as convincing as it should have been from there.

Some trademark huge hitting from Andre Russell – who smashed 54 from 22 balls with six maximums – gave KKR hope. With much-needed support from Dinesh Karthik (40), he embarked on an extraordinary innings until being bowled behind his legs by Sam Curran (1-58).

Russell had reached his fifty in just 21 balls and was visibly frustrated after his dismissal.

Karthik became only the third player ever – after MS Dhoni and Rohit Sharma – to reach 200 IPL games and kept going until Lungi Ngidi trapped him lbw, while Pat Cummins continued the fight, scoring 66 not out for his highest career T20 score.

He racked up six maximums and scored 30 from the 16th over off a bewildered Curran, only to see his hopes of engineering a famous win end when numbers 10 and 11 were both run out in the last two overs.

FAF ON FINE FORM

A tremendous innings from Du Plessis saw him score 13 boundaries, including four sixes.

He came close to a hundred and was on strike with 94 to his name with two balls to go only to hit a single, allowing Ravindra Jadeja to smash a six off the only ball he faced and finish the Chennai innings with a flourish.

Du Plessis' 95 was the second-highest score of IPL 2021 and the highest unbeaten innings.

He now holds the highest average (82) of any player – quite the recovery after going out for a duck in the first match against the Delhi Capitals.

UNWELCOME RUN FOR KKR

KKR have gone two years without reaching the play-offs and their start to the season is not helping their hopes of a return to the top four, with this their fourth loss in five meetings with Super Kings.

With three straight defeats, the last time they lost as many consecutive matches in the IPL was back in 2019, when they had a miserable streak of six. They must halt this current run against Rajasthan Royals on Saturday.

Jonny Bairstow ensured Sunrisers Hyderabad ended their winless start to the Indian Premier League with a thumping nine-wicket victory over Punjab Kings.

Punjab always looked likely to fall to a third straight defeat after they could only post 120 all out at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.

After losing skipper KL Rahul for just four, their innings looked doomed when Mayank Agarwal (22) departed and Nicholas Pooran (0) in consecutive balls, with Chris Gayle (15) also dismissed before the halfway point.

Pooran was run out without facing a delivery after being promoted up to number four in the order.

Shahrukh Khan added 22 and scored the only two maximums of a disappointing Kings innings, as Khaleel Ahmed led the Sunrisers with figures of 3-21 from his four overs.

Openers Bairstow and David Warner scored 73 from the first 10 overs to ensure a maiden win of 2021 never looked in doubt for Sunrisers.

The Australia batsman fell for a run-a-ball 37 after Agarwal held on to a catch off the bowling of Fabian Allen (1-22).

But Bairstow (63 not out) remained for the duration of a comfortable run chase after being joined by Kane Williamson (16no).

SUNRISERS UP AND RUNNING

Sunrisers had lost their first three matches by just 10, six and 13 runs respectively, so they have not been far away despite their winless start.

Having also lost the last game they played in 2020, defeat in this game would have equalled their longest ever IPL losing run of five.

But having made the play-offs in each of the last five years, they will hope this much-needed victory kickstarts their season to ensure that impressive streak can continue.

BAIRSTOW FORM CONTINUES

It has been a good start to the competition for England batsman Bairstow, whose unbeaten 56-ball innings here contained six boundaries and included three maximums.

After coming into the match with scores of 55, 12 and 43 to his name, Bairstow now averages 57.66 and will be key to the Sunrisers' hopes of contending.

Mohammad Rizwan punished Zimbabwe for an early dropped catch as Pakistan claimed a hard-fought 11-run victory in the Twenty20 series opener on Wednesday.

Fresh from a 3-1 win in South Africa, Pakistan relied on Rizwan's unbeaten 82 to steer them to a competitive total of 149-7 after being put into bat at Harare Sports Club.

The wicketkeeper-batsman hit 10 fours and a solitary six in his outstanding 61-ball knock; the next highest score in the innings came from debutant Danish Aziz, who made 15 before becoming one of two wickets to fall to Luke Jongwe.

Zimbabwe did not help themselves with a number of missed opportunities in the field, including Tinashe Kamunhukamwe at mid-on failing to grasp an opportunity presented by Rizwan when he had just 13 to his name.

The home team still looked in a promising position in reply when they reached 77-2 in the 11th over, despite two early strikes from Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Hasnain.

Kamunhukamwe had batted well to reach 29 but his departure, stumped having charged down the track to off-spinner Mohammad Hafeez, signalled a collapse. Craig Ervine fell in the next over for a top score of 34 as Zimbabwe slipped to 95-6.

Usman Qadir did much of the damage as he claimed 3-29 and, despite some late boundaries from Jongwe (30 not out from 23 balls), Zimbabwe  finished up on 138-7.

The second T20 takes place at the same venue on Friday, with the final game in the series scheduled for Sunday.

Rizwan in the runs again

Opener Rizwan registered his third half-century in five T20 games – his other two outings in that stretch saw him dismissed without scoring in the four-match series against the Proteas. Zimbabwe were left to rue their failure to dismiss him cheaply, particularly as he helped plunder 20 runs from the final over.

Zimbabwe left in a spin

Qadir – the son of legendary leg-spinner Abdul – sparked a middle-order collapse by Zimbabwe that shifted the game in Pakistan's favour. He has now taken 11 wickets at an average of 8.09 against them in four appearances in the shortest format, as well as owning a miserly economy rate of 5.93 runs per over.

Delhi Capitals took a small measure of revenge for their defeat in last year's IPL final as they edged out Mumbai Indians.

At the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, Mumbai made just 137-9 after a mid-innings slump saw them surrender five wickets for 17 runs, with Amit Mishra returning figures of 4-24.

It meant only a modest run chase, and Delhi avoided panic as they clinched a six-wicket win in the final over, with a boundary from Shimron Hetmyer followed by a no-ball by Kieron Pollard.

Both sides came into this match with two wins from three matches in the 2021 IPL so far, with Mumbai defending their title.

But this was not Mumbai's day. They slumped from a promising 67-1 to a brittle 84-6, with that collapse seeing Suryakumar Yadav (24) edge Avesh Khan to Rishabh Pant behind the stumps before Rohit Sharma (44) and Hardik Pandya (0) holed out to Steve Smith in the deep to give Mishra two wickets in three balls.

Krunal Pandya (1) tied himself in knots and chopped on as Lalit Yadav got in on the wicket-taking act, before Mishra had Pollard pinned lbw.

Ishan Kishan made 26 before becoming Mishra's fourth victim, and Jayant Yadav added 23, but that five-wicket burst meant it was damage limitation in the closing overs for Mumbai, who at least managed to bat out their overs.

Prithvi Shaw was then snagged, caught and bowled by Jayant Yadav, in the second over of Delhi's reply, bringing Steve Smith to the crease.

The former Australia captain made 33, and he and Shikhar Dhawan (45) provided a sturdy platform that Delhi did not waste, keeping Trent Boult (0-23) wicketless, with Pollard's no-ball handing over the win.

Masterful Mishra

Mishra sits second on the all-time list of wicket-takers in the IPL, and he was certainly close to his wily best here as the 38-year-old teased out Rohit and Hardik with a game-changing rapid double strike. Both fell into his trap, looking to hit over long-on when the delivery was just too smart.

Smith, Shikhar lay the foundations

This looked made for Smith, with no need for the Australian maestro to rush things when he arrived in the second over of the Capitals' innings. He could afford to be watchful but was cut off in his prime, while Shikhar also looked well set before falling. These games rarely follow the expected plot, which underlines their appeal.

The Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has joined forces with the Caribbean Cricket Podcast to bring even more engaging and entertaining content to their ever-growing social media following.

Deepak Chahar produced career-best Indian Premier League figures to inspire Chennai Super Kings to a dominant victory over Punjab Kings.

Making his 50th appearance in the competition, Chahar helped ensure Punjab's innings never got going as they were restricted to 106-8.

He finished with 4-13 from four overs, including one maiden, Punjab never getting to grips with a challenging surface in Mumbai.

Faf du Plessis (36 not out) and Moeen Ali (46) combined for 66 to help CSK ease to their target with 26 balls to spare, winning by six wickets.

Mayank Agarwal went for a two-ball duck to Chahar in the opening over, misjudging a wondrous delivery that pinged the top off-stump.

A direct hit from Ravindra Jadeja saw KL Rahul run out before the West Indian pair of Chris Gayle (10) and Nicholas Pooran (0) each fell to Chahar before the end of the powerplay.

Deepak Hooda tamely chipped to mid-off for Chahar's fourth wicket, leaving Punjab on 26-5 in the seventh over.

Shahrukh Khan's 36-ball 47, which included two sixes, at least made sure Punjab had something to defend, but a lack of support from the lower order meant the target was always one well within CSK's grasp.

Moeen and Du Plessis extinguished any hopes of Punjab claiming an unlikely win, their second-wicket stand allowing the Super Kings to coast to victory despite a 15th-over blitz from Mohammed Shami that saw Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu dismissed.

Chahar makes mark on landmark appearance

Chahar let out a huge roar when he castled Agarwal and he had every right to do so after producing a delivery that nipped away from middle stump to deceive the opener.

The subsequent dismissals owed more to a fine catch from Jadeja to get rid of Gayle and batting errors from Pooran and Hooda, but nothing should be taken away from Chahar after he tilted the game firmly in CSK's favour.

Moeen gets things moving

Moeen and Du Plessis showed Punjab how to bat on the surface with an excellent partnership, the England all-rounder's 46 coming off 31 deliveries, his strike rate of 148.38 the best in the contest.

He recorded seven fours and one maximum, with Du Plessis' sole six coming off a scoop shot in the fourth over. The South African was still in at the end when Sam Curran wrapped things up after a brief wobble.

Pakistan sealed a 3-1 triumph over South Africa in their Twenty20 series despite almost matching a wretched batting collapse by the hosts in the Centurion finale.

The Proteas slumped from 109-2 to 144 all out amid a display of artless batsmanship to set Pakistan just a modest victory target, yet the chasing side almost threw away the match with an implosion of their own.

Eventually they won by three wickets with one ball to spare, Fakhar Zaman smashing 60 from 34 balls and Mohammad Nawaz clinching victory with a six when just two runs were required.

Babar Azam's century had spurred Pakistan to a nine-wicket win in the third game of this four-match series, but where that contest, also at Centurion, was a run-fest, with both teams topping 200, this time South Africa were masters of their own downfall.

Aiden Markram came into the match behind three successive T20 fifties, attempting to be only the third player, after Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle, to make four in a row.

He was the first batsman to be dismissed, however, lbw to Nawaz, and although Janneman Malan (33) and Rassie van der Dussen (52) then put on 57 for the second wicket, there was little other resistance to be found among the South Africa batsmen.

Faheem Ashraf tormented the top order for figures of 3-17 in four overs, while Hasan Ali rebounded well from being carted for 29 in his opening two overs, finishing with 3-40.

In Pakistan's reply, Fakhar came to the crease after Mohammad Rizwan slumped to a first-over stumping, and the left-hander soon set about the home attack, crunching five fours and four sixes before being caught as a wild swipe at Lizaad Williams sent the ball skywards.

His departure triggered the second heavy flurry of wickets in the match, Pakistan sliding from 92-1 to 129-7, needing someone to find some composure.

Nawaz was that man, first punishing Sisanda Magala for delivering two consecutive no-balls in the penultimate over, flogging his second free hit over the ropes. In a nervy final over, Nawaz (25 not out) picked off Williams from the fifth ball, pulling square over the boundary for the winning runs.

Chaos reigns

A contest littered with chaotic cricket was perhaps best summed up by the first delivery of the ninth over in Pakistan's reply. Tabraiz Shamsi's delivery was short, sat up and called for severe punishment. Even so, Fakhar looked sure to miss out on a boundary as George Linde moved to sweep up inside the boundary. Yet Linde inexplicably failed to get his body in the way of the ball. Really rather poor all round.

Hasan heroic

While Faheem and Haris Rauf (2-18) kept it supremely tight throughout their spells, the same could not be said for Hasan, who came in for some brutal early treatment. It takes sporting courage and skill to rebound from two horror overs, and he demonstrated such attributes by taking three wickets in his next two sets of six, including that of Magala from his final delivery.

The third match of the Hero CPL Esports series was a topsy-turvy affair with the Kesrick Williams of the St Lucia Zouks emerging victorious against Sheldon Cottrell of St Kitts & Nevis Patriots after a brilliant come back with the ball.

Chris Gayle was among the runs as the Punjab Kings defeated the Rajasthan Royals by four runs in a thriller in Mumbai today.

South Africa levelled the four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan at 1-1 thanks to a convincing six-wicket win at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.

The Proteas - minus their Indian Premier League stars - had slipped to defeat in the opening game on Saturday but recovered impressively from that setback, with a disciplined bowling performance restricting their opponents to 140-9.

Aidan Markram led the reply with 54 from 30 balls and while there was a mid-innings wobble as they slipped to 98-4, the hosts still cruised to their victory target with six overs to spare.

Stand-in captain Heinrich Klaasen finished up unbeaten on 36, while George Linde was 20 not out from just 10 deliveries to complete a fine all-round performance.

Mohammad Rizwan had starred in Pakistan's successful run chase at the weekend, making an unbeaten 74, but fell for a first-ball duck this time.

The recalled Sharjeel Khan – playing his first international game since January 2017 – also departed early for eight, leaving the score at 10-2 in the third over of an innings that simply never gained momentum.

Skipper Babar Azam made 50 at a run-a-ball rate and Mohammad Hafeez contributed 32, the pair adding 58 for the third wicket.

However, three wickets apiece for Linde – who opened the bowling with his left-arm spin - and Lizaad Williams restricted Pakistan's final score. Tabraiz Shamsi also played his part with the ball, recording figures of 1-22 from his four overs.

The two teams meet again in the third T20 at Centurion on Wednesday, with the series concluding at the same venue two days later.


Rare failure for Rizwan

Rizwan had posted scores of 74 not out, 42, 51, 104 not out and 89 in his previous five T20 appearances for Pakistan. However, the impressive run of form came to a rapid halt on Monday.

The wicketkeeper-batsman fell to the first ball of the game, an ambitious attempt to hit Linde over the top only providing catching practice for Markram at mid-off.

Opening case continues

Markram made sure South Africa had no issues with the required rate in reply, hitting seven fours and three sixes in a 30-ball knock.

The opening batsman has hit back-to-back half-centuries in the format now, furthering his case for a spot in the full-strength line-up ahead of the T20 World Cup later in the year.

Depleted South Africa will have to do without new captain Temba Bavuma as they look to quickly bounce back from ODI disappointment in a four-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan.

The Proteas went down by 28 runs in a high-scoring decider in the third and final one-dayer on Wednesday, coming up short in their run chase after the tourists had posted 320-7.

Bavuma suffered a strained hamstring while batting and will not be available for the first T20 contest on Saturday, which takes place at the Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg and will play no part in the series.

Heinrich Klaasen will lead the Proteas in the absence of batsman Bavuma, while the in-form Rassie van der Dussen is undergoing treatment on a quad muscle strain and Dwaine Pretorius misses out with a fractured rib.

Reeza Hendricks is also absent following the recent birth of his first child, with Quinton de Kock, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje playing in the Indian Premier League.

Aiden Markram, Andile Phehlukwayo, Daryn Dupavillon and Wiaan Mulder have been retained from the ODI squad.

Pakistan, meanwhile, will be hoping for further white-ball success, having come out on top by a 2-1 scoreline when they hosted their opponents in T20 action earlier this year.

They have added Fakhar Zaman to their squad following his outstanding form in the 50-over fixtures on South African soil.

The opening batsman followed up his 193 in a losing cause in the second game last Sunday with a crucial knock of 103 in the winner-takes-all showdown, with back-to-back centuries moving him up to number 12 in the ICC rankings.

However, Shadab Khan is ruled out due to a fractured toe. The all-rounder will be sidelined for a month, meaning he will also miss the upcoming tour to Zimbabwe. Zahid Mahmood has been named as his replacement for the T20 games on that trip.

 

Opportunity knocks in absence of Proteas stars

South Africa have failed to win their last five series' in the shortest format and you have to go back to the 2019 whitewash of Sri Lanka for their last triumph.

Miller was man of the series in that 3-0 triumph but the dangerous batsman is among the key absentees for the Proteas' next assignment.

With a T20 World Cup to come in India this year, the players who get their opportunity must grasp it and stake a claim for a place in the squad.

Will Fakhar get his chance?

The left-hander's twin hundreds boosted his career average in ODI action to 49.17. However, his T20 record at the highest level is not so hot, as he has averages 22.05 in his previous 40 appearances.

Pakistan are not short of options to bat at the top of the order, either. Captain Babar Azam has tended to open the innings, while Mohammad Rizwan scored a century - just his country's second in the format - when batting there in the home series against South Africa earlier this year.

Mumbai Indians are favourites to claim a historic third successive Indian Premier League crown back on home soil.

The Indians retained their title in Dubai last year with a victory over Delhi Capitals, taking their record tally of IPL triumphs to a five.

Rohit Sharma's side will be the team to beat in a competition that will be played in Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, having been staged overseas in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore look the most likely sides to prevent Mumbai from becoming the first franchise to win three consecutive IPL titles.

We pick out some of the things to look out for in what promises to be a mouthwatering extravaganza of cricket, which starts on Friday in a country that will stage the T20 World Cup later this year.

 

INDIANS PRIMED FOR THREE IN A ROW

The champions start the defence of their title with a blockbuster showdown against RCB in the first game of the tournament at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai.

Mumbai will have to wait for Quinton de Kock's arrival as he is on duty with South Africa, so skipper Rohit will be expected to set the tone at the top of the order.

The India opener is the fourth-highest run-scorer in IPL history with 5,230 at an average of 31.31 and, although the 2020 edition was not one of his best, he struck a rapid 68 in the final. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav played significant hands with the bat in Mumbai's 2020 success.

Trent Boult was man of the match in that win over Delhi after taking 3-30 and the New Zealand seamer will have a big part to play with the ball along with Jasprit Bumrah.

 

STAND-IN SKIPPER PANT CAN LEAD BY EXAMPLE

Delhi's first IPL final proved to be painful in November, but they will fancy their chances of going one better under the captaincy of Rishabh Pant.

The addition of Steve Smith, who was released by Rajasthan Royals, is a major tonic, while Umesh Yadav and Sam Billings are among their other new recruits.

Kagiso Rabada was the leading wicket-taker in last year's tournament with 30 at 18.26 and Delhi will need him to fire again along with fellow Proteas quick Anrich Nortje.

Ravichandran Ashwin should be on a high from his Test exploits for India against England, while the in-form Pant can thrive as skipper with Shreyas Iyer ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

MORRIS UNDER PRESSURE TO JUSTIFY PRICE TAG

Chris Morris became the most expensive signing in IPL history when he was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals for 16.25crore (around £1.6million).

That staggering fee put the South Africa all-rounder ahead of Yuvraj Singh (16cr) as the biggest ever auction acquisition.

Morris was 20th on the list of the leading wicket-takers last year when featuring for RCB and only batted five times, with a top score of 25 not out.

 

ROY TO REUNITE WITH BAIRSTOW

England batsman Roy went unsold at auction but was drafted in by Sunrisers Hyderabad last week after Mitchell Marsh withdrew for personal reasons.

Sunrisers coach Trevor Bayliss was clearly excited by the prospect of Roy and Jonny Bairstow forming a pairing that has served England so well.

Roy may have to wait for his opportunity or Sunrisers could tinker with the order, as captain David Warner and Bairstow have formed a dangerous opening pairing.

Delhi Capitals have revealed that all-rounder Axar Patel has tested positive for coronavirus less than a week before the new Indian Premier League season gets under way.

Axar played a massive part in India's 3-1 Test series victory over England earlier this year, taking 27 wickets at an average of 10.59 in three matches.

The 27-year-old has now gone into isolation, having contracted COVID-19 after arriving at the Capitals' team hotel.

"Delhi Capitals all-rounder Axar Patel has tested positive for COVID-19. He had checked into the team hotel in Mumbai on March 28, 2021, with a negative report. His report from the second COVID test, came positive," Delhi announced in a statement on Saturday.

"He is currently in isolation at a designated medical care facility. The Delhi Capitals medical team is in constant touch with Axar and ensuring his safety and well-being. We wish him a speedy recovery."

The Capitals face Chennai Super Kings in their first match of the tournament at the Wankhede Stadium next Saturday.

The first match of the inaugural virtual CPL was a run filled spectacle as Trinbago Knight Riders’ Colin Munro emerged victorious against Ashmead Nedd after a Super Over finish.  

Rishabh Pant will captain Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League after Shreyas Iyer was ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

Iyer damaged his left shoulder while fielding in the first match of India's 2-1 ODI series victory over England in Pune.

The batsman will not be available to lead the capitals, so his in-form India team-mate Pant will take over as skipper.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Pant said: "Delhi is where I grew up, and where my IPL journey began six years ago. To lead this team one day is a dream I've always harboured.

"And today, as that dream comes true, I feel humbled. I am truly grateful, especially to our team owners, who considered me capable enough for this role.

"With an amazing coaching staff, and a plethora of accomplished seniors around me, I can't wait to give my absolute best for Delhi Capitals."

Iyer said: "When I sustained the shoulder injury, and Delhi Capitals needed a leader for this edition of the IPL, I had no doubt that Rishabh would be the best man for the job.

"He has all my good wishes to make amazing things happen with our absolutely incredible team. I'm going to miss the team tremendously, and will be cheering for them throughout."

Delhi, runners-up last year, start their IPL campaign against Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on April 10.

 

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