Chennai Super Kings 128 for 4 (Rayudu 32, Umesh 2-15) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 127 for 9 (Parthiv 53, Jadeja 3-18) by six wickets
ESPNcricinfo-Ravindra Jadeja took out Virat Kohli first ball. Harbhajan Singh took out AB de Villiers first ball. Chennai Super Kings took out Royal Challengers Bangalore for 127. And at the end of it all, MS Dhoni just smiled. He wielded a slow pitch like a magic wand, turning a docile bowling attack – economy-rate of 9.19 – into a mythical match-winning entity.
The left-arm wrecking ball
Jadeja’s arm has been gathering dust this IPL and the situation got so bad that he was malfunctioning. He wasn’t scoring runs. On Thursday, he dropped two catches in two balls. He wasn’t taking wickets. And the coach was forced to call him out at a post-match press conference.
But everything changed the moment CSK won the toss on Saturday. An arm ball zipped past Kohli’s cut shot and thudded into the off stump. A full-blooded sweep from Mandeep Singh found deep square leg. And even the top-scorer Parthiv Patel popped a catch straight back to him. Jadeja didn’t celebrate any of those wickets and instead wore a look that said: is this really happening? Considering they collapsed to 89 for 8, RCB might have wondered the same thing.
The right-arm straightjacket
Harbhajan used to be a linchpin with Mumbai Indians. But his 10-year relationship with them ended this season and he has found a foolproof way to cozy up to his new fans – tweet in Tamil, the first language in Chennai, and keep taking wickets. Big ones. Like de Villiers, stumped while playing the reverse sweep.
Harbhajan’s success – and Jadeja’s too – was the result of being accurate, looping the ball up on off stump but rarely allowing batsmen to reach the pitch of it. Most played for non-existent turn and were ambushed by straight balls. The two spinners bowled eight overs, conceded only three boundaries and picked up five wickets. Even batsmen of the class of Kohli and de Villiers – who made only 9 runs put together – couldn’t cope.
The baby-faced hero
Imagine the kid at the amusement park standing on tip-toe to prove he is tall enough to ride the rollercoaster. Now swap them out with Parthiv and you’ll just about understand how much he’d like to prove he belongs in an RCB batting line-up. He struck three fours and two sixes in the Poweplay, taking advantage of David Willey and Lungi Ngidi straying into his pads. There was one that he sent straight into the CSK dugout, making M Vijay run for cover. But in between those big hits, he ate up too many dot balls. The wickets at the other end began to take a toll as well. And eventually he fell for 53 off 41 balls. The next batsman to get into double digits was No. 8 Tim Southee, who made 36 off 26.
A chase of 128 presented the opportunity for CSK to experiment. They had handed a debut to David Willey and the English allrounder has experience as a pinch-hitting opener. But his work was limited to the ball, as a firmly traditional approach took them to the target in the 18th over. Traditional down to Dhoni finishing things off with a blaze of sixes.