Dhoni, Rayudu take CSK over finish line in tense chase

Blistering knocks from M.S. Dhoni (70*) and Ambati Rayudu (82) powered Chennai Super Kings to an exciting five-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore.

M.S. Dhoni plays a shot during his unbeaten knock of 70 against RCB.   -  G.P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Blistering knocks from M.S. Dhoni (70 n.o., 34b, 1x4, 7x6) and Ambati Rayudu (82, 53b, 3x4, 8x6) powered Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to an exciting five-wicket victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) here on Wednesday.

Chasing a stiff target of 206, CSK got past the finish line with two balls to spare. CSK was in a spot of bother at 79 for four at one stage, but that was before Dhoni and Rayudu launched a counter-attack of fearsome proportions.

Dhoni, in particular, was in an aggressive mood from the moment he took guard. Facing just his second ball, he launched a full delivery from Pawan Negi over the mid-wicket fence. The CSK skipper threw the kitchen sink at anything over-pitched, sending the ball flying to all parts of the ground.

Key highlights - CSK's record chase of 206

Rayudu was more circumspect, reaching his fifty in 40 balls. He received a reprieve on 61, when Umesh Yadav dropped a sitter at cover. Rayudu then went on to make another 21 runs, before Umesh run him out with a direct-hit. At this juncture, CSK needed 31 runs off 13 balls.

Dwayne Bravo and Dhoni were left with 16 to get off the last over, bowled by Corey Anderson. Bravo started with a thick edge, which eluded the wicketkeeper and reached the third-man boundary. The next ball was thrashed for a six over extra-cover, stacking enormous pressure on Anderson. A single brought Dhoni on strike, who finished the match with a heave over mid-wicket – his seventh and match-winning six.

Earlier, RCB racked up its first total over 200 this season, on the back of a 103-run second-wicket partnership between Quinton de Kock (53, 37b, 1x4, 4x6) and A.B. de Villiers (68, 30b, 2x4, 8x6). The South African duo held firm after skipper Virat Kohli was dismissed for a 15-ball 18.

Kohli fell to a length ball from pacer Shardul Thakur, his uppish drive landing in the hands of mid-on. It took de Villiers five deliveries to get off the mark, but he broke the draught in style with a straight six off Harbahajan Singh. Another six and four came in the same over, and de Villiers was on his way. A few overs later, de Villiers brought the crowd to its feet when he smashed legspinner Imran Tahir onto the roof of the stadium.

 

The 34-year-old looked set for a big score, but his countryman Tahir cut his innings short. The leg-spinner induced a leading edge from de Villiers, which ballooned to Sam Billings at deep cover.

De Kock recorded his first fifty of the IPL season, before he was deceived by a slower one from Dwayne Bravo. The wickets of de Kock and de Villiers swung the momentum in favour of CSK. Corey Anderson (2), Colin de Grandhomme (11) and Pawan Negi (0) failed to make a mark, but Mandeep Singh (32, 17b) and Washington Sundar (13 n.o., 4b) scrambled to push the visitor past the 200-run mark.

In a rare occurrence, the home fans were matched in numbers by CSK supporters. Chants of ‘CSK, CSK’ from those in yellow jerseys were quickly countered by cries of ‘RCB, RCB’ - a friendly off-the-field battle that added spice to the occasion.