Abu Dhabi: South African Faf Du Plessis asserted on the eve of Monday night’s encounter against Delhi Daredevils that Chennai Super Kings were the best fielding side in the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014.
And CSK gave enough evidence to suggest that is true by taking a plethora of brilliant catches on their way to a crushing 93-run win at the Shaikh Zayed Stadium here — their biggest ever IPL win.
Suresh Raina top-scored with 56 from 41 balls as Chennai posted 177 for seven from their 20 overs, before the Daredevils were bowled out for just 84 in reply.
The Super Kings were guilty of dropping catches in their first outing against Kings XI Punjab, which they lost despite scoring a mammoth 205. On Monday, they held on to everything.
Raina triggered the slide with a brilliant catch running back from point to get rid of Mayank Agarwal and then Du Plessis took two sensational catches to get the sell-out crowd on their feet. First Murali Vijay tried to hit Mohit Sharma to the straight boundary, but Du Plessis ran backwards from mid-off and hung on while falling backwards.
And he pulled off another stunner to send Manoj Tiwary packing for a duck. Tiwary gave Ishwar Pandey the charge and the ball ballooned off the bottom of the bat, but Du Plessis again ran back and held on when diving full stretch.
Thereafter none of the Delhi batsmen provided any resistance to the Chennai attack. With the required rate going up, the Daredevils lost the in-form J.P. Duminy leg before to Dwayne Smith and then Ross Taylor to Ben Hilfenhaus — caught behind by Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Delhi quickly slipped from 42 for four to 82 for eight in 15th over and were eventually all out for a paltry 84 in 15.4 overs, although they only lost nine wickets as Nathan Coulter-Nile couldn’t bat after injuring himself in the field. Stand-in skipper Dinesh Karthik, who saw wickets fall all around him, managed 21 before being bowled by Ravichandran Ashwin.
The Super Kings made three changes from the team that played and lost in their opening match against Kings XI Punjab. Ashish Nehra, Dwayne Bravo — whose shoulder injury suffered during that match means he is ruled out for the rest of the tournament — and Pawan Negi made way for Hilfenhaus, Pandey and Mithun Manhas.
Daredevils captain Kevin Pietersen was not deemed fit enough to return from injury, so the team was unchanged.
Delhi were straight away in trouble as they lost their Australian all-rounder Coulter-Nile in the first over to an injury suffered while attempting a sliding stop.
Murali Vijay had to step in as a bowler and was immediately carted all around the park by Raina.
J.P. Duminy dropped a dolly off Brendon McCullum when he was on nine, but it didn’t prove costly as Jaydev Unadkat got him to err from the very next ball, and this time substitute fielder Wayne Parnell at short third man made no mistake.
Shahbaz Nadeem got rid of the well-set Dwayne Smith (29) with a brilliant arm ball that went straight through his defences and on to the stumps.
Skipper Dhoni then provided the necessary impetus by going after the bowling and scored a quickfire 32 off 15 deliveries. Useful contributions also came from Du Plessis (24) and Mitun Manhas (13).
“It was a complete performance. Catches win matches. This was a perfect game for us,” said an elated Dhoni after the match.