Dhoni steals the show

M.S. Dhoni turned the match Chennai Super Kings’ way with a whirlwind knock.-K. BHAGYA PRAKASH

While Chennai Super Kings continued to sail high, notching its fourth successive victory, Royal Challengers stumbled to its third defeat at home, writes K. C. Vijaya Kumar.

Rahul Dravid’s best laid plans seem to be ending up in despair. On April 28, at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore Royal Challengers did test Chennai Super Kings for a while before blinking under pressure and capitulating to a 13-run defeat in the DLF Indian Premier League. While Chennai Super Kings continued to sail high, notching its fourth successive victory, Royal Challengers stumbled to its third defeat at home.

The contrast in the two teams’ fortunes also shimmered in the approach of the rival captains, Dravid and M. S. Dhoni.

Earlier in the night, with his team in a spot of bother at 83 for three after Suresh Raina’s run out, Dhoni twirled his bat, flexed his left shoulder and pumped up the adrenaline with a 65 off just 30 deliveries (9x4, 3x6) to help his team post 178 for five in 20 overs, which, in the end, proved more than adequate.

Dravid, meanwhile, had a tiring night with luck proving elusive as Michael Hussey’s skier went past his belated dive. Later, during the Bangalore team’s chase, he fell leg before to Manpreet Gony for nought.

Chasing 178, the home team was in the hunt for a while as Wasim Jaffer (50, 33b, 5x4, 2x6) and Ross Taylor (53, 34b, 3x4, 3x6) papered over the early crack caused by Bharath Chipli’s dismissal. The duo’s 89-run second-wicket partnership seemingly set Bangalore on the path to victory though the required run-rate was always a tad stiff.

But then with wickets in hand, a late assault towards the summit was the presumed climax and as if on cue, the Mexican wave returned briefly to the stands. The cheers were augmented by Jaffer suddenly revealing a penchant for lofted shots while Taylor, in his patented way of all-out aggression, continued to pockmark the fence.

However, Jaffer and Taylor holed out by playing ambitious shots that never fulfilled their intent against the persevering seamer P. Amarnath. Later, after Albie Morkel disturbed Virat Kohli’s timber, Manpreet Gony inflicted a double-blow, scalping Mark Boucher as well as Dravid.

The contest fizzled out after Zaheer Khan and Praveen Kumar were run out. Royal Challengers was bowled out for 165 in 19.4 overs and later, as the lights were switched off, a clutch of fans called out to their ‘Dhoni bhai’ and kept chorusing “well played.”

It was Dhoni who earlier salvaged the Chennai Super Kings innings along with Michael Hussey (47) with a 95-run fourth-wicket partnership that helped the visitor tide over the early sluggishness caused by Dale Steyn’s zingy spells. Steyn kept Matthew Hayden quiet and the burly Aussie opener’s attempt to flat-bat Zaheer Khan ended in despair as the ball dislodged his stumps. Parthiv Patel hung his bat out to Praveen Kumar to be held by Jacques Kallis, while Suresh Raina chipped in with 28. Thereafter, Hussey and Dhoni buckled down and bolstered the innings. Dhoni also dented Steyn’s figures, hitting him for four fours and a six in one over.

In the end, Dhoni’s knock was what turned the match Chennai’s way. And fittingly, he was adjudged the Man of the Match.

The Scores

Bangalore Royal Challengers v Chennai Super Kings, Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, April 28, 2008.

Result: Chennai Super Kings won by 13 runs.

Chennai Super Kings 178 for five in 20 overs (Parthiv Patel 21, M. Hussey 47, S. Raina 28, M. S. Dhoni 65, Zaheer Khan 3-38) bt Bangalore Royal Challengers 165 in 19.4 overs (W. Jaffer 50, Ross Taylor 53, M. Gony 3-34, P. Amarnath 2-38).