As a T20 skipper,you need only one bowler or one batsman who can alter the momentum in your favour. Doesn’t matter when it happens,but when it does,things fall in place. For Dhoni,it was Ben Hilfenhaus with the ball,finishing with applaudable figures of 4-1-8-2.
The swing Hilfenhaus produced,left the Rajasthan Royals batsmen guessing and helped dismiss two important contributors in Rahul Dravid and the danger man Shane Watson within six overs. His contribution have restricted Royals to 126,but the Royals too gave CSK a scare.
Chasing the smallish score,Chennai made a meal of the chase and it looked like Royals would sneak in a win when the visitors needed 41off 21 with Albie Morkel and Anirudha Srikkanth at the crease,both starting from scratch. Morkel has hardly had the chance to get his eye in in any of the matches while Anirudha was playing the first match of his season.
Morkel spanked the first ball he faced for a six,and the second for a four and suddenly the momentum changed. With Anirudha joining him,he hit an identical six-ball 18 in an incredible stand of 43 runs in 1.5 overs to seal the win for the defending champions.
Earlier,Ben Hilfenhaus took the ball in the second over and with pace and movement gave Rajasthan’s openers little to work with. Dravid fell trying to up the scoring and so did Watson who came in one down.
With frequent rain interruptions,the Rajasthan innings did not gain any momentum with Yo Mahesh joining in,picking up the wickets of Rahane (caught at slip) and Stuart Binny (27 off 18 balls),who was the only batsmen who looked comfotable on a wicket that offered pace and carry. With his pacemen calling the shots,R Ashwin sent down just two overs,picking up the wicket of Brad Hodge with his usual carrom ball.
Rajasthan in the end crawled to 126 but with Chennai’s misfiring batting line up missing regulars like Faf du Plessis and S Badrinath through a bout of the flu,the side made heavy weather of the chase. Though coming in with just a few deliveries left and the asking rate at almost 12 an over,the players who just about made the bus Anirudha and Morkel changed things around for the champions.
They were also aided by some erratic bowling at the death by Rajasthan,who sent down six wides and a no ball (which incidentally shattered Anirudha’s stumps) in their last eleven deliveries to seal their own fate,but it could also be said that it was the hitting of the unlikely duo that put them under pressure in the first place.