It’s not often that an innings in T20 cricket sticks with you for a long time, unless it’s MS Dhoni’s last-over efforts, but Amabti Rayudu’s innings against Punjab Kings on Monday (April 25) night at the Wankhede was an instant reminder of his innings at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi a year ago. It matched in terms of guts, zeal, and commitment, as well as the end outcome. Both knockouts resulted in a loss for Chennai Super Kings. Rayudu, on the other hand, could not be criticised on either occasion. Rayudu delivered the much-needed power punch to the Chennai chase, which was in need of an asking rate of over 11 runs per over when the former India batsman appeared to the crease at 40 for three. He began his assault with a powerful hit through the covers off Rahul Chahar, followed by a four and a six off Rishi Dhawan in the following over to put the Super Kings’ pursuit on a fast track.

Rayudu saved his best for Sandeep Sharma after a similar treatment to Liam Livingstone in the 11th over. The Chennai No 5 blasted the Punjab pacer for three successive sixes and a four to extract 23 runs from the 16th over, and Super Kings, who had looked off the pace at one point, seemed to be the match favourites. The Super Kings’ quest for 188 was broken by the planned break at that point, and Kagiso Rabada got the better of him in the following over. However, Rayudu’s unwavering 78, which included seven fours and six sixes, would have been far superior in terms of quality, style, and power than Shikhar Dhawan’s undefeated 88 (59 balls, 9 fours, 2 sixes) if it hadn’t been for the fact that Punjab Kings won a nail-bitingly close game by 11 runs. Rayudu’s Delhi innings was very identical, despite the fact that the Chennai club was batting first in that match on May 1, 2021. Rayudu mounted an assault on the Mumbai Indian bowlers, who included Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, after three wickets fell in the space of four runs, and took the team’s total to 218 for four from 112 for four. On that particular day, he made 72 out of only 27 balls.