The scores were similar till the first powerplay. Royal Challengers Bangalore were 57/0, Chennai Super Kings 51/0. Both teams lost three wickets within the 10-over mark. Half the side dismissed by the 16th over, CSK still needed 52 from 24 balls. Enter MS Dhoni. Back as captain, Dhoni was no stranger to this equation, or to acing it. But then Josh Hazlewood tightened the screws with a five-run over.
Needing 47 from 18 now, Moeen Ali had no choice but to throw his bat at everything. But he chose a slower ball from Harshal Patel. It should have been a wide had Ali left the ball alone but he got a toe to it and the ball ballooned to Mohammed Siraj at extra cover. End of the 18th over, CSK needed 39 from 12. Dhoni pulled a length ball from Hazlewood but didn’t get the elevation as he holed out to Rajat Patidar at deep midwicket.
Heaving a sigh of relief, RCB completed a 13-run win to move to fourth in the table with 12 points from 11 games. Languishing at ninth with six points, CSK are as good as out of playoffs contention.
In all fairness, CSK shouldn’t have fluffed this chase after the start they got. Devon Conway was majestically driving, sweeping and clearing his front leg for inside-out shots that kept CSK ahead of the asking rate till the seventh over. But barring Ali, not one top-order or middle-order batter got even 10. That was bound to hurt. RCB were in a similar position but Mahipal Lomror scored 42 off 27 balls, adding 44 with Rajat Patidar for the fourth wicket and 32 for the fifth with Dinesh Karthik to change the course in 10 overs.
Till that first partnership flourished, RCB had looked down and out. Kohli’s dismissal always puts a spanner in the best of plans but this time he had already consumed 32 balls, scoring just 30, leaving RCB very little time to turn things around. The dismissal was almost Test-like—Ali tossing up one that pitched and turned, luring Kohli into a flick. But Kohli didn’t get to the pitch of it and the ball spun almost square—replays showed by seven degrees—to hit middle and leg. The one that had got Faf du Plessis was almost a long-hop, the RCB captain failing to clear deep midwicket. Glenn Maxwell was also run out before Kohli fell, leaving RCB’s Indian recruits a tall task.
Where Lomror and Patidar were smart was in not taking too much risk against CSK’s spinners. Maheesh Theeksana finished with 4-0-27-3, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-20-0 and Ali 4-0-28-2. Once they were out of the way, Lomror and Karthik took a heavy toll on Dwaine Pretorius in the final overs, creaming him for 34 runs in two overs. Overall, RCB added 50 in the last five overs, enough to beat the odds of Dhoni conjuring up another magical chase.