New Delhi:Laxmipathy Balaji's fiery bowling left Kings XI Punjab gasping as Chennai Super Kings trounced them by 18 runs in the return leg of the DLF IPL at the MAC Stadium in Chennai.
The Man of the Match, L Balaji picked five wickets conceding just 24 runs in his spell of four overs. This also includes the hat-trick he took in his last over, the first in the tournament. Balaji, who has been out of international cricket for the past couple of years, made a roaring comeback in his second IPL match.
In the first spell, he picked Sarwan and the big wicket of Shaun Marsh (58). In the last over he picked three players Irfan Pathan (40), Piyush Chawla (17) and VRV Singh.
Kings XI failed to avenge their loss to Dhoni's men despite Irfan Pathan and Shaun Marsh's heroics. Shaun marshaled Punjab innings single handedly while wickets kept tumbling from the other end.
All-rounder Irfan Pathan made 40 runs and looked to see his side through but Balaji came up with his magical spell and put an end to Punjab's hopes of recording their sixth consecutive win.
Yuvraj could not fire and perished cheaply. Amarnath tightened the screws, having Yuvraj Singh caught by Stephen Fleming at point.
Defending a total of 181, Super Kings bowlers were up for their job and picked wickets regularly to hamper Punjab's run chase. Albie Morkel provided Chennai Super Kings the early breakthrough as he removed Punjab opener James Hopes, who was looking threatening.
Earlier, with the help of the innings of MS Dhoni and S Badrinath, Chennai Super Kings made 181 runs at the loss of four wickets.
Chennai skipper MS Dhoni (60) and S Badrinath (64) did the recovery work for Super Kings with aplomb after their three batsmen collapsed early in the innings. They hit some lusty shots and looked to cross the 200-mark but Punjab made a brilliant comeback. They conceded just 37 runs in the last five overs.
S Sreesanth, all focused and fired up after the 'slapgate controversy', was bang on the target and picked two wickets in his successive overs to remove openers S Viduyt (8) and Stephen Fleming.
Former Kiwi skipper Stephen Fleming failed yet again and added just one run before Karan Goel took his catch at the cover. Suresh Raina in his cameo added 26 runs as his statemate and Punjab spinner Piyush Chawla put an end to his innings.
Then came captain Dhoni to take things under control. He along with S Badrinath added 91 runs for the fourth wicket. VRV Singh finally broke the partnership and Yuvraj caught Badrinath at covers.
With this win, Chennai Super Kings move up to the second place with 12 points. Rajasthan Royals, also with 12 points, lead the table as they have a better net run rate than the Super Kings.