Rayudu, du Plessis help CSK beat Mumbai Indians by five wickets
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Ambati Rayudu goes for the big one in his top score of 71 for CSK. (BCCI photo)
Ambati Rayudu goes for the big one in his top score of 71 for CSK. (BCCI photo)

MUMBAI Indians’ (MI) horror run in the UAE continues as Rohit Sharma’s men suffered their 6th straight defeat in the Middle East.

The defending champions were handed a 5-wicket thrashing by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the opening match of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 at the almost empty Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi yesterday.

It was a winning return for MS Dhoni who was back playing competitive cricket for the 1st time in 437 days. It was the 3rd straight opening-day victory for CSK who had beaten MI and Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2018, 2019 campaign openers.

Dhoni, who had retired from international cricket on August 15, marshalled his troops well despite making some surprising calls by leaving out the likes of Dwayne Bravo and Imran Tahir for the campaign opener.

It was CSK’s dependable top-order batsmen, Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis, who got the job done in chase of 163 with a 115-run stand for the 3rd wicket. Rayudu hit a solid 71 in just 48 balls – his 19th IPL fifty while the veteran South African batsman, who was electric in the field, provided able support with a fifty.

Rayudu walked in when CSK were in a spot of bother, having lost openers Shane Watson (4) and Murali Vijay (1) inside the 1st 2 overs. Rayudu batted at No.4 yesterday in the rejigged CSK batting order due to the absence of vice-captain Suresh Raina who had pulled out of IPL 2020.

Rayudu continued doing what he does best for CSK as he went after the Mumbai Indians bowlers. Rayudu and du Plessis took their time to steady the innings after Trent Boult and James Pattinson jolted the CSK batting unit.

However, both Rayudu and du Plessis got into their groove, ably supported by MI fielders who were rusty after the long break enforced by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Rayudu cared very little for reputations as he took on the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult while dominating spinners Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar. Rayudu and du Plessis added 115 runs for the 3rd wicket as they not just steered CSK out of trouble but took them closer to a win.

Rayudu was handed a lifeline by Krunal Pandya in the 16th over, right after the time-out when the all-rounder dropped a tough chance on a poor fielding day for the Mumbai Indians. However, Rahul Chahar got the big wicket of Rayudu in the 16th over. Krunal made up for his error by removing Ravindra Jadeja cheaply.

However, all-rounder Sam Curran, who walked out ahead of MS Dhoni, came up with a stunning cameo to make sure CSK crossed the finish line without giving their fans a nervous last-over finish.

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