Rahul lets rip as CSK miss out on claiming top spot
Chennai Super Kings missed out on the chance to seal top spot in the Indian Premier League table as Kings XI Punjab cruised to a six-wicket win on Sunday.
Victory in Mohali would have seen the defending champions secure first place, but KL Rahul's superb 71 from just 36 balls helped the hosts overhaul CSK's 170-5 with two overs remaining to finish their season on a high having missed out on a top-four berth.
Faf du Plessis' electric 96 off 55 and Suresh Raina's 53 from 38 formed the foundation of Chennai's total, the pair adding 120 for the second wicket.
But Rahul and Chris Gayle (28) laid on 108 inside 11 overs in their opening stand before Nicholas Pooran made sure there would be no nervy finish.
The Super Kings will still finish top if Kolkata Knight Riders overcome Mumbai Indians later on Sunday and in any event MS Dhoni's men will return home for the qualifier between the leading two sides on Tuesday.
FAF TO THE FORE BEFORE KINGS XI FIGHT BACK
Shane Watson's early departure brought Du Plessis and Raina together and it was the South Africa captain who assumed the role of chief aggressor.
Du Plessis launched 10 fours and four sixes in his excellent knock, including taking Andrew Tye for four-four-six to start the 16th.
He fell narrowly short of a century, however – one of four wickets to go down from a final 21 deliveries that delivered just one boundary.
RAHUL RUNS RIOT
The India batsman got the Kings XI chase off to a flying start, crashing three of his five sixes inside the first two overs.
And Harbhajan Singh came in for severe punishment in the fourth, which saw Rahul take the spinner for three fours and two more maximums.
Gayle soon got in on the fun, thumping Imran Tahir for four-six-six before he and Rahul perished to Harbhajan (3-57) from successive balls in the 11th to give CSK hope.
That chink of light was soon extinguished, however, as Murali Vijay put down a sitter at point when Pooran was only 13, and the West Indian had made 36 by the time he was dismissed with seven required from a little under four overs.