A classic innings dhoni innings – one that ended with three sixes behind the last three balls – brought Chennai Super Kings from the par score to the winner’s result as they staged a comeback to beat Rajasthan Royals in Chennai with eight runs.
Part of Dhoni’s undefeated 75 out of 46, his highest score at home, was built in partnership with Suresh Raina, with the pair coming in 27 for 27 after Ajinkya Rahane set them up. But in the end Dhoni turned it off. With Dwayne Bravo, who was later to defend the last 12 defenders, Dhoni set 56 in 29 balls, while the Royals in the last four overs gave a defining 67 game.
Ben Stokes, Rahul Tripathi and Jofra Archer had decisive blows, but the collapse of the Royals at the beginning of the chase meant they had too much to do in the end.
Rajasthan Royals Good Start:
Super Kings got only one of the first two overs. Jofra Archer had hit Ambati Rayudu’s forearm before locking the wicket maiden by defending him against the goalkeeper. In a nutshell, bowling still seemed to be the optimal strategy, and Shane Watson was aware that Dhawal Kulkarni and Ben Stokes had crossed borders at the back foot.
His indulgence, however, was short lived. He had just pulled Stokes for six and led two balls later up to a short third man. Kedar Jadhav was also killed shortly afterwards in an attacking haze – two hits, two hits, the third ball throws his hands at a wide ball from Kulkarni.
At 27 for 3, Royals had used Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni in the final round of the Powerplay, and the supreme batsmen of Super Kings looked vulnerable. The length of the attack remained the same. Archer attacked Raina’s ribs with a leg groove and let him jump and fight back. When Dhoni was attacked, his back foot defenses rolled back onto the tree stumps just to keep their claws in place. Then it became easy.
The Royals chose to save Kulkarni’s remnant for the Slog, which meant that the pressure was lifted immediately with five spin-overs. Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham were reasonably economical, but Raina became more self-confident and accepted them.
When the bowling change took place, it was Jaydev Unadkat, and as most teams have done, Super Kings immediately went after him. Dhoni fluttered a slower ball for his first frontier and Raina later tickled a penalty in the penalty area.
But the royals got some openings. On his next over, Unadkat Raina hit a ball after surviving an escape attempt, and in the next over dropped Gowtham Dhoni – a difficult shot – with extra cover. The 61-run stand had done enough to put Royals on the defensive, and with a well-placed Dhoni who survived that chance, Super Kings seemed ready for a big start.
MS Dhoni Batting:
Kulkarni returned to a completely different life in the 18th century. All the pressure was on him and the rope had begun to pay off. He had dropped two high throws, one far, one low, and one low for the free hit that Dhoni had drilled for extra protection for six.
Moisture had damaged the ball, resulting in a third change in the evening, but to start it Kulkarni was occupied by Bravo for ten in two. Twenty-four runs came from then on, whereas in his first three he already had 13.
On both sides of the opponent Archer gave 15 against 12. A subconscious Unadkat was handed the finale and after being beaten to death by Jadeja at six, he had to deal with the old three balls of the innings. Each of them was short, everyone in a different direction. And every one six. Twenty-eight runs were over, making it the third most expensive final in IPL.
For the third game in a row, Deepak Chahar has brought his four overs to the front and for the second time less than five to five. On Sunday, he set up two wickets at this rate – by Ajinkya Rahane and Sanju Samson.
While he mostly held to his preferred corridor line and moved her in both directions, he received support from the two-part pitch and let both hang from the thick outer edge. Shardul Thakur also capitalized on the other end, and with Jos Buttler’s wicket, the Royals were 14 for 3, their three best fighters all in Dugout.
Super Kings went with two left-hand spinners against a team that had only a left-handed batsman. But the dew made them ineffective – Ravindra Jadeja and debutant Mitchell Santner together gave 49 out of their four overs. Incredibly, Imran Tahir still managed to turn the tide, and it was his usual menacing presence in the Middle Ages.
His 2:23 in 4 had interrupted a dangerous-looking Rahul Tripathi innings, and with Steven Smith’s wicket door open, the door for Royal’s hunt seemed to be closed at 94 for 5. But Ben Stokes, who scored only his seventh rating of over 30 in 27 IPL innings, kept her alive long enough to wait for scouts in the innings.
When Archer joined him, there was an immediate attack of aggression: after Royals 56 came in, Royals put his last potency at 12, a 19-time 18’s from Dwayne Bravo, the main catalyst. Archer had beaten him for two sixes at this time, but Bravo returned to regular service in the 20th century.
He got Stokes to cover the first ball in addition, gave the next two only a leg-bye goal and held Archer to a fourth place. In the end, Archer, Royals best player of the day, was unbeaten in 24 out of 11.