Finch magic steers Pune to victory
Aaron Finch’s 45-ball innings of 67 proved to be the match-winning contribution as the Pune Warriors held off the Chennai Super Kings by 24 runs in their Pepsi IPL clash at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Monday.
Full Scorecard: Chennai v Pune
The Australian’s 10 fours and two sixes, along with Steve Smith’s remarkable undefeated 16-ball cameo of 39 at the death, catapulted the visitors to a total of 159 for six. Only South African Chris Morris starred with the ball for Chennai, as he recorded figures of 4-0-25-2.
The Super Kings reply rarely threatened and only Subramaniam Badrinath (34) and Ravindra Jadeja’s (27) fourth-wicket partnership of 46 contributed significantly to the eventual total of 135 for eight.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the shining light with the ball for the Pune outfit, as he produced immaculate figures of two for 12 in his four overs. Ashok Dinda (4-0-24-2) and Mitchell Marsh (4-0-35-2) also chipped in with two wickets apiece.
The Warriors' second win of the competition sees them move up a place into seventh in the standings, while MS Dhoni’s team sit just one place higher by virtue of their superior net run-rate.
With his team having earlier won the toss and elected to bat, Finch wasted little time in showing his intent as he mauled countryman Dirk Nannes (4-0-42-0) for three boundaries in the opening over.
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Finch was imperious as he struck eight boundaries in the first five overs, and launched his first maximum over long off for a big six at the start of the eighth over off the bowling of R Ashwin (4-0-24-0) - shortly after the fifty had come up.
The 26 year-old then brought up his 12th T20 fifty the following over with a top edge over short fine leg for four. The milestone had needed just 32 deliveries to be reached.
Finch and fellow opener Robin Uthappa took the score to 96, before the former – having smashed a big six over mid-wicket the delivery before – was stumped by a grateful Dhoni in the 13th over off Ashwin.
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The demise of the prolific opener sparked a mini-collapse, as Uthappa and captain Ross Taylor (8) fell in quick succession to Morris. By the time Marsh (2) lost his wicket, the visitors had been reduced to 128 for four at the start of the 18th.
However, Smith was on hand to give the innings late momentum with some incredible shots all around the park.
The penultimate over from Nannes was carted for 14, before a sensational reverse sweep for six over third man off Dwayne Bravo (4-0-35-2) in the final over took the score past 150.
Chennai made a dreadful start in reply, as opener Srikkanth Anirudha fell to Kumar off just the second delivery, and, but for a simple spurned chance at mid-on from the bat of Murali Vijay (24) in the second over, the hosts would have found themselves two for two.
The Warriors' bowlers kept up the pressure though, and Kumar got rid of new man Suresh Raina (8) in the fifth over, before Vijay, who was beginning to look dangerous, skied one to extra cover in the seventh to leave his team at 40 for three.
The home side were in desperate need of a partnership, and the new pair of Badrinath and Jadeja steadied the ship. A mixture of caution and aggression yielded occasional boundaries, and kept their team in touch with the required rate.
Australian Marsh was the man to end the 38-ball stand, as Badrinath sliced one to long off at the end of the 13th.
Wickets then fell as the required rate began to climb, and by the time skipper Dhoni (10) was joined by Albie Morkel (13), the Chennai side appeared dead and buried needing 56 from 25 with just four wickets in hand.
Dhoni was unable to produce the miracle that his team craved, as he drilled one straight down the throat of long off in the 18th over, and, with 36 needed off the final over, Morkel fell in a similar fashion to end any last hopes of an unlikely victory.
CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: S Anirudha, M Vijay, SK Raina, S Badrinath, DJ Bravo, MS Dhoni (capt & wk), RA Jadeja, CH Morris, JA Morkel, R Ashwin, DP Nannes
PUNE WARRIORS: RV Uthappa (wk), AJ Finch, MK Pandey, LRPL Taylor (capt), AM Nayar, SPD Smith, TL Suman, MR Marsh, B Kumar, R Sharma, AB Dinda