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Monday, November 29, 2021

It’s all Yellow, as non-emotional Dhoni highlights keeping cool

Emotional Rollercoaster: CSK end KKR fight with 27-run win in IPL final

By: Express News Service |
Updated: October 16, 2021 2:10:51 pm
CSK defeat KKR by 27 runs to win IPL crown for 4th time (IPL)

Cool play & it’s all yellow

“CSK CSK” rang out the shouts in the stands in the final over of the chase. In the dug out, Robin Uthappa whose lovely cameo was a factor in CSK’s high score but who was off the field, hugged the assistant coach Eric Simons. Dhoni had a smile as his happy players converged on him. Even though the match was long-over, Dhoni, as ever, kept it simple, urging his players to do the basic stuff properly. Shardul Thakur really tested MS Dhoni’s patience in the 19th over. Particularly with a slower one that slipped out as a chest-high full toss and a no-ball of course. Dhoni gave a stare and gave out an angsty “C’mon!”. More than 40 runs were needed but Dhoni wasn’t resting on his laurels. Two more wides followed and Dhoni gathered both and sighed. Then a six came and he was now visibly upset and screamed out a few words. And when the final ball was a dot ball, a slower one that he collected, he waved his gloves as if to say, “just keep it simple like this’. Still not done, he followed Thakur who was trying to hide in the outfield and had more words to say.

DK, fluffed stumping not OK

It’s third time in as many games that Dinesh Karthik missed a stumping chance. Off the first ball of the third over of the innings, Shakib Al Hasan looped one up on a length, sucking Faf du Plessis into a drive but the ball dinked past the inside edge of the bat and slid down leg side but Karthik couldn’t gather. It still would have needed Dhoni-like reflexes to pull off the stumping as du Plessis had begun to slide his back foot towards safety but as it transpired, it rolled away for a bye. To make matters worse, Ruturaj Gaikwad swept a four and pulled a six in that over. The good news for the superstitious Kolkata fans is that in the last two games Karthik fluffed a stumping, Kolkata Knight Riders went on to win.

The Va-ddle before the Va-runup

You could hear from the stump microphone someone screeching to Varun Chakravarthy: “Jaldi, jaldi Varun, jaldi, jaldi”. The bowler had just begun measuring his run-up, and teammates know he takes his sweet time covering roughly five yards. But Varun does it step by step, rather than hop like most bowlers, even spinners. Someone like Rashid Khan bolts through the routine while Shahid Afridi used to almost leap when marking his run-up. But Varun is in no hurry, he crawls through it, taking one step at a time, like he’s taking baby steps to learn the moon-walk. After planting one foot, he waits for an eternity before planting the next, so next to each other that he could trip himself, leaving some of his less patient teammates fidgety.

Robin there, doing that expertly now

Robin Uthappa was the batsman at the other end when Rahul Tewatia burst on the public imagination with a stunning assault in last year’s IPL. Uthappa was the senior batsman for Rajasthan Royals but he couldn’t do much that night. It was still better than the 2019 game when he played for KKR and royally struggled in a game against Mumbai Indians. There were 25 dot balls in his 47-ball knock that night. The last few years he has been shuttled from one team to another and his stint with CSK too seemed destined for lots of hours in the dug out until Suresh Raina picked up a niggle. He smashed a match-deciding knock in the first play-off and has played a lovely cameo (15-ball 31) in the final now. He started with a reverse sweep off Sunil Narine first ball though he couldn’t connect. He then smashed Shakib Al Hasan over long-on, and pummelled a carrom ball from Varun Chakravarthy over wide midwicket – a speciality shot of his. He then walloped Narine over midwicket before he fell lbw, attempting another reverse sweep. All in all, though, the last couple of games must have done a lot in erasing the bad memories from the last couple of years.

This/that, left/right, Iyer/or

Lanky Venkatesh Iyer has been the discovery of the tournament. He could strike stadium-clearing sixes, chime in with wickets with all-sorts medium pace, and he could fling bullet throws from the deep with both hands. He was stationed at cover, and Robin Uthappa dabbed a Varun Chakravarthy ball towards third man. He sprinted a fair distance, intercepted the rapidly travelling ball near the ropes, picked it with his left hand and flung a neat, flat throw in one fluid motion. In the next over, he was standing at deep point when Uthappa hammered one through covers. Iyer blitzed in time to thwart a boundary, gathered it cleanly and bulleted another flat throw to the bowler. Only this time, he used his right hand. There are batsmen who bat left-handed and bowl right-handed. The other way around. But there are few fielders worth their salt who could be dexterous with both their arms to file in a hammer throw from the deep. Who knows, he could bat right-handed and bowl left-handed too. Quiz his school teachers, maybe he could write with both hands.

Chewing gum, chewing up the bowler

Even as Deepak Chahar ran in for the first ball of the chase, Shubman Gill was chewing his gum. Batsmen generally chew in between deliveries and only a few – we all know who – do it actively even when the bowler is about to deliver the ball. Just as the ball was released, Gill went down the track and absolutely walloped it over midwicket. Gill loves that shot over midwicket. Many others do play that shot but not many retain shape even when going down the track. Almost as if he is standing on a camera trolley that has been slid forward. Gill somehow manages to stay almost still – no jarring of the lead shoulder, no bobbing of the head and the bat swoops down nice and smooth to create carnage.

Dhoni drops two

Not often does MS Dhoni miss two chances of a batsman. Venkatesh Iyer was the lucky one. Dhoni made a meal of the first one and did superbly well to get a glove-brush on the second. Kris Srikkanth had predicted the first edge – “one Khachak coming viewers!” Khachak is the sound effect he gives to a ball that rears from back of length that he predicted Josh Hazlewood would bowl in the second over. And he did too and Iyer backed away to try punching it off the backfoot but nicked it. It flew to the left of Dhoni who perhaps leaped a bit more than needed as it wasn’t that high nor that far from him. May be it dipped a touch in the end. Dhoni gestured to someone that it wobbled a bit in the end. One wonders who that fielder was. He usually shows such reactions to his friend Suresh Raina who isn’t playing the game. In the fifth over, Shardul Thakur bowled a slower short ball and Iyer top edged his attempted pull and it lobbed over Dhoni who did his utmost best to pouch. He timed his leap perfectly and stretched his right hand to the fullest but the ball just about brushed his glove and ran away.

MS Dhoni MS Dhoni during the final of the IPL 2021 between the Chennai Super Kings and the Kolkata Knight Riders. (Photo by Ron Gaunt / Sportzpics for IPL)

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