Chennai begins IPL title defense with cruise win as Kohli gets out for 21 in return match | Cricket

CHENNAI, India — Chennai Super Kings kicked off their Indian Premier League title defense with a clinical six-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru in Virat Kohli’s return match on Friday.

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Kohli hit 21 off 20 balls in Bengaluru’s mediocre score of 173-6, and Chennai reached 176-4 with eight balls remaining in the opening match of the nine-week league.

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Kohli missed international cricket for almost two months, including India’s Test series victory against England, due to the birth of his second child, and was unable to prevent Chennai from winning a eighth consecutive victory against Bengaluru at Chepauk.

After Bengaluru’s top spot collapsed, Anuj Rawat and Dinesh Karthik revived their hopes with a sixth-wicket stand of 95 off 57 balls.

Captain Faf du Plessis elected to bat and gave Bengaluru a good start in the powerplay when he hit eight boundaries in his 35 before falling to the variations of fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman, who took 4-29.

Mustafizur dismissed du Plessis and Rajat Patidar in his only over in the powerplay and then picked up two more wickets, including Kohli, in his second over in the middle of the innings.

Kohli was caught brilliantly at mid-wicket when Ajinkya Rahane dove full length and, just before crashing into the boundary pad, flicked the ball back to Rachin Ravindra to complete the catch.

Bengaluru were reeling at 78-5 and Mustafizur’s figures read 4-7 in his first two overs.

Chennai’s opening order was among the runs in a windy chase. Ravindra, on his league debut, hit 37 off 15 balls with three sixes and three boundaries.

Ajinkya Rahane and Daryl Mitchell kept the pace going and Shivam Dube and Ravindra Jadeja combined in a half-century stand to guide Chennai home.

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