Champs rise to challenge

Defending champions pull off a heist as they overhaul Bangalore’s 205-run target off the last ball

Written by Express News Service | Chennai | Published: April 13, 2012 1:24:22 am

When the Royal Challengers Bangalore stepped onto the field at the MA Chidambaram Stadium,they were trying to set a few records straight. Daniel Vettori & Co had been the form team when they landed in Chennai 11 months ago for the IPL 4 final. They had,however,ended up with a mauling at the hands of Chennai Super Kings,who steamrolled their way to a second straight IPL crown.

On Thursday,it was the hosts who needed a win desperately to get their 2012 campaign going. But the Royal Challengers seemed to have ticked all the boxes en route to gaining a measure of revenge in the grudge match till the 39th over of the contest.

Improbable is nothing

The Super Kings still required 43 runs off the last 12 balls — a daunting task. With Chris Gayle off the field,Vettori turned to the innocuous medium-pace of Virat Kohli. Surely the man with the golden arm couldn’t mess this one up. Or so everyone thought. Everyone except the explosive Albie Morkel.

Morkel hit two fours and three sixes as he scored 28 runs in that over to leave Chennai with 15 to get off the final over.

The pendulum seemed to have swung for one final time when R Vinay Kumar had Morkel caught in the deep off the second delivery. Dwayne Bravo,however,then put on the superhero’s coat and hit a four and a six. The final delivery of the humdinger pitted the two latest IPL millionaires against each other. And with CSK requiring two,it was Ravindra Jadeja who prevailed,edging a wide delivery for four.

Amid wild celebrations in the stadium,all Vettori was left with was that familiar feeling of grief at what is soon turning into a theatre of disappointment for the Royal Challengers. Till the time he opted for Kohli over Raju Bhatkal for the penultimate over,the astute Kiwi and his team had pulled all the right stops to avoid a third consecutive IPL defeat against the Super Kings.

Perfect start

Vettori won the toss,and decided to bat first. Chris Gayle survived the opening spell from R Ashwin — who had dismissed him twice last season — with opening partner Mayank Agarwal neutralising the off-spinner.

Agarwal set the pace for the innings with a power-packed 43,allowing Gayle to settle into his groove. And following his departure,the West Indian took over and set off alarm bells for bowlers across the IPL by hitting six sixes,including one off Bravo exiting the stadium,during his 35-ball 68. Gayle’s brutality along with Kohli’s finesse then helped RCB set the same target — 206— that they had failed to chase in last year’s final.

The RCB bowlers even managed to thwart Murali Vijay,their tormentor from last season. And when Muttiah Muralitharan,a former CSK poster boy,finished his impressive spell with figures of 3/21,including the wicket of Faf du Plessis for 71,the game seemed all but over. That is before Morkel and Bravo produced a shocking display of power-hitting to take Chennai home dramatically in a match that witnessed 23 sixes — the most in IPL history.

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