Finch (64 off 53 balls), through his sheer display of brute force, ensured Pune ease past Rajasthan’s 145 for five in 18.4 overs. Rajasthan skipper Rahul Dravid struck a spectacular 54 but could not prevent his team’s first loss in three matches.
On the other hand, it was a morale boosting win for Pune, who went down in their first two matches of the competition and was staring at another sorry season.
The chase was expected to be a tough one for the hosts as the pitch played slow, making stroke play difficult. But openers Finch and Robin Uthappa (32) made the job easier by smashing 51 runs in the first four overs.
The dangerous pair first took on the young off-spinner Harmeet Singh, collecting 17 from his second over. The fourth over of the innings saw S. Sreesanth leaking 22 runs with Uthappa doing the maximum damage.
Uthappa fell in the next over but Finch carried on to guide the team home. The Australian hit six fours and three maximums in his cracking innings.
Yuvraj Singh, returning to action after missing the last game, played well for his 23-ball 28.
Earlier, Rajasthan could not capitalise on the start provided by Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane (30).
The classy duo forged an 81-run partnership after Rahane’s opening partner Kusal Perera was trapped in front of the stumps by Bhuvneshwar Kumar on the first ball of the match.
Dravid’s sublime knock was full of conventional strokes, laced with eight boundaries. It was his second fifty in three matches and the way the 40-year-old is playing in the tournament, it does not seem that age is catching up with him.
It took a special one-handed catch from Ross Taylor to dismiss the Indian batting great.
The flow of runs slowed down after Dravid’s dismissal before Brad Hodge (22) produced a useful knock towards the end.
Rajasthan Royals: Kusal Perera lbw b Bhuvneshwar 0 (1b), Ajinkya Rahane c Mathews b Rahul 30 (27b, 3×4), Rahul Dravid c Taylor b Yuvraj 54 (48b, 8×4), Stuart Binny c Marsh b Yuvraj 1 (4b), Brad Hodge (not out) 22 (19b, 3×4), Dishant Yagnik c Suman b Rahul 12 (8b, 2×4), James Faulkner (not out) 19 (14b, 1×4, 1×6); Extras (lb-3, nb-1, w-3): 7; Total ( for five wkts. in 20 overs): 145.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Perera), 2-81 (Rahane), 3-85 (Binny), 4-93 (Dravid), 5-106 (Yagnik).
Pune Warriors bowling: Bhuvneshwar Kumar 4-0-41-1, Ashok Dinda 3-0-21-0, Angelo Mathews 4-0-27-0, Rahul Sharma 4-0-16-2, Yuvraj Singh 4-0-27-2, Mitchell Marsh 1-0-10-0.
Pune Warriors: Robin Uthappa c Dravid b Faulkner 32 (16b, 3×4, 2×6), Aaron Finch b Faulkner 64 (53b, 6×4, 3×6), Ross Taylor c Hodge b Harmeet 17 (20b, 1×6), Yuvraj Singh (not out) 28 (23b, 2×4, 2×6), Angelo Mathews (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (lb-2, w-3, nb-1): 6; Total (for two wkts. in 18.4 overs): 148.
Fall of wickets: 1-58 (Uthappa), 2-104 (Taylor), 3-131 (Finch).
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Harmeet Singh 4-0-34-1, S. Sreesanth 2.4-0-38-0, James Faulkner 4-0-17-2, Kevon Cooper 4-0-26-0, Siddharth Trivedi 4-0-31-0.
Man-of-the-match: Aaron Finch.
Bravo, Hussey power Chennai to crushing win
Dhoni’s men drub Punjab by 10 wickets
Opener Michael Hussey slammed a blistering 54-ball 86 as Chennai Super Kings produced an aggressive brand of cricket to roll over Kings XI Punjab by 10 wickets in their Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) match here tonight.
Chasing 139 for victory after opting to field, Chennai rode on Hussey’s knock and Murali Vijay’s 50 off as many balls to thump the hosts at the PCA Stadium, and open their account in this edition of the cash-rich T20 league.
The two-time former champions had lost their opening match to Mumbai Indians.
Steady to start with, Hussey upped the ante as the innings progressed, eventually leading his side to a commanding victory with 16 balls to spare.
There were a flurry of fours and sixes in the second half of the innings as Chennai raced to the target with ease.
While he was at his best towards the end, Hussey did not miss out on the opportunities to spank the loose balls for runs initially too.
Vijay was not at his fluent best but gave Hussey the support he needed at the other end. Unlike Punjab, Chennai knew they had the depth and experience in their batting, paving the way for the opening combo to milk runs instead of going hammer and tongs.
At the end of the end of the 10th over, Chennai were 65 for no loss, needing another 74 runs.
Punjab had their opportunities to dismiss the Chennai openers but Piyush Chawla dropped Hussey off his own bowling before Adam Gilchrist missed a stumping against Vijay in the eighth over.
Hussey capitalised on the life he got, cutting medium pacer Parvinder Awana for two fours through the point region as Chennai upped the scoring rate.
In the process, the two recorded the best first-wicket partnership for Chennai against Punjab in IPL, before taking it a notch higher to post the best partnership for any wicket on this ground.