Synopsis: RCB live to fight another day after Dhoni’s batting and tactical masterclass light up Chinnaswamy
Fight another day
It looked impossible, when the last over began. The equation read, 26 required off the final six deliveries. MS Dhoni started off with a four followed by two sixes, a couple and another maximum off Umesh Yadav. Two runs for victory off the final ball had tilted the balance in Chennai Super Kings’ favour. Yadav bowled a slower delivery, Dhoni missed it, but was off in a flash. A single would have taken the game to a Super Over. But Shardul Thakur at the non-striker’s end failed to pre-empt it. Even a full-length dive couldn’t save him, as Parthiv Patel – he also scored a half-century – brilliantly effected the run-out with a direct hit from behind the stumps. Royal Challengers Bangalore, on the other hand, won by a run. They live to fight another day.
For two seasons on the bounce, Dale Steyn went unsold at the IPL auctions, when bowlers half his ability earned crores. Drafted into the Royal Challengers squad midway this term as Nathan Coulter-Nile’s replacement, Steyn hit the ground running with a couple of wickets against Kolkata Knight Riders at Eden Gardens. At Chinnaswamy on Sunday, he made the new ball talk, helping his side defend 161, a total that was about 20 runs below par on this surface.
In the first over of Super Kings’ chase, Steyn moved one late and had Shane Watson caught at first slip. Suresh Raina came and was outsmarted by the master. His stance was upright and also a bit square-on. Maybe, Raina was expecting a bouncer. Steyn bowled a perfect yorker instead that cleaned up the left-hander.
Steyn’s genius had ruffled the Super Kings batsmen and Yadav reaped the benefits. Two poor shots from Faf du Plessis and Kedar Jadhav gave him two wickets, as the visitors slumped to 28/4 in the sixth over. Ambati Rayudu hung on, survived a run-out opportunity and also benefited from an umpiring error. On 16, he was given not out on referral, when Patel appeared to have stumped him off a Yuzvendra Chahal beauty. Rayudu, however, departed after adding 55 runs for the fifth wicket with Dhoni. But the required run rate by then had gone past 11.
The equation stood at 48 off 18 balls when Virat Kohli brought back Steyn. Dhoni was playing a lone ranger and as long as he was there, Super Kings weren’t out of it. He took a six off Steyn but that wasn’t enough. In the penultimate over, with 36 required, he refused to take three singles despite the fact that Dwayne Bravo was at the other end. He stills backs himself to finish games. He took the game deep before throwing the kitchen sink. An 84 not out off 48 balls was vintage Dhoni.
When Deepak Chahar started his second over at Kohli, Dhoni brought in a gully. A slip was already in place. The fielding adjustment created a gap in the cover region. He threw a challenge to Kohli to target the vacant area.
Cover drive is Kohli’s staple diet. No one plays the shot better than him. But with a slip and a gully in place, and Chahar targeting the channel, there was an element of risk. Chahar’s first ball was wide outside the off stump. Kohli slashed and missed. He walked down the track to meet the second delivery. A thick edge took the ball over slip to the third man boundary. Chahar followed up with another full ball outside off that shaped away. Kohli went for an expansive cover drive but could only manage to nick behind the stumps.
Royal Challengers also erred with their batting order by not sending the in-form Moeen Ali at No. 4. At No. 6, the southpaw was wasted. RCB, though, survived by the skin of their teeth.
Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bangalore 161/7 in 20 overs (Parthiv Patel 53 off 37 balls with 2×4 & 4×6, Moeen Ali 26 off 16 balls with 5×4; Deepak Chahar 2/25 in 4 overs) beat Chennai Super Kings 160/8 in 20 overs (Dhoni 84 not out off 48 balls with 5×4 & 7×6; Steyn 2/29 in 4 overs) by 1 run.