CHENNAI: South Africa’s Faf du Plessis struck a brisk half-century in his first Indian Premier League game of the season to help Chennai Super Kings outplay Kings XI Punjab by 22 runs on Saturday.
Du Plessis made 54 off 38 deliveries in his team’s 160-3, a total their bowlers defended after restricting Punjab to 138-5 at Chennai’s MA Chidambaram Stadium.
The South African captain, who was included in the XI after sitting out of Chennai’s four previous matches, hit two fours and four sixes on a sluggish pitch for batting.
“Just glad to be playing back in the homeground. I’ve been waiting in the sidelines and it is always good to get an opportunity,” Du Plessis said after his knock.
“I had been hitting the ball well in the nets.”
He built crucial partnerships including a 56-run opening stand with Australia’s Shane Watson, who made 26, to lay the foundation of the total after the defending champions elected to bat first.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, scoring 37, was involved in an unbeaten 60-run fourth-wicket stand with Ambati Rayudu, who made 21.
Punjab’s chase was jolted by two early wickets in the very second over including the big-hitting Chris Gayle caught behind for five off veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh.
KL Rahul, who made 55, and Sarfaraz Khan, who top-scored with 67, then put on 110 runs for the third wicket but Punjab lost the plot with an ever increasing run rate.
Chennai’s New Zealand import Scott Kuggeleijn, a bowling all-rounder who played his debut IPL game after replacing injured Lungi Ngidi, and Singh claimed two wickets each.