A tactical masterstroke from Dhoni? Or a bit lucky?
Was attacking RCB with fingerspinners a masterstoke?
MS Dhoni's fans on Twitter said it was a stroke of genius to leave out wristspinner Imran Tahir and attack Royal Challengers Bangalore with fingerspinners Ravindra Jadeja and Harbhajan Singh. They took 5 for 40 between them in eight overs. Was it a masterstroke? Or a byproduct of other considerations?
CSK have been the second most expensive bowling side at the death this season. England fast bowler David Willey, a Powerplay specialist, was included perhaps with a view of having him and Lungi Ngidi bowl early. This would have allowed them to bowl Dwayne Bravo and Shardul Thakur at the death. For this plan to happen, Tahir had to free up one overseas spot. If improving death bowling was the idea, Dhoni had to bowl his fingerspinners early. Of course, Jadeja and Harbhajan deserve credit for bowling a perfect length - not too full or too short - and using variations in pace to prise out wickets that included AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli. Full credit to the captain for keeping them in the attack after they had started well.
Unforced errors cost RCB again
After RCB's loss to Kolkata Knight Riders, Virat Kohli said his team didn't deserve to win if they fielded as poorly as they did. RCB had allowed extra runs through misfields and also missed opportunities to dismiss batsmen. It was more of the same against Chennai Super Kings. Parthiv Patel couldn't collect a throw cleanly enough to run Suresh Raina out in the 7th over and then spilled the ball when it looked like Dwayne Bravo had got a fine edge in the 13th. Yuzvendra Chahal dropped a simple catch in the deep when Bravo lofted it to cover.
The sloppiness extended to the bowling too. M Ashwin bowled a couple of half-trackers to release pressure in the 16th over and then Chahal bowled a no-ball in the 18th. The ball had hit Dhoni on the back pad, and RCB may have got an lbw had it been a legitimate delivery. Dhoni hit the free hit for six. That didn't so much put salt in the wound as tear the wound wide open and leave RCB's qualification hopes flailing.
Did Kohli use his bowlers right?
When you are defending 127, you have to go for wickets, even if it means bowling out a couple of your best bowlers before the death. After 18 overs, Kohli had only bowled out Colin de Grandhomme, who is usually the fifth or sixth bowler used.
Kohli started aggressively, giving Chahal the second over. But he was then taken out of the attack and given just one more over in the first ten. Perhaps Kohli thought pace would be more effective against Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina, both good players of spin, but had he looked at this season's statistics, he would have known that both have actually played pace better than spin. Kohli also waited till the 12th over to bring on Ashwin, his other wristspinner, despite the success Super Kings' spinners had in the first innings.
Ashwin and de Grandhomme struck in consecutive overs, getting RCB back in the game. Kohli had the opportunity to bring on one of his strike bowlers, but chose to stick with the two wicket-takers. To be fair, De Grandhomme was bowling a tight line and keeping Bravo quiet, while Ashwin created an opportunity in the 14th over. Still, waiting till the 18th over, when MS Dhoni was already set, to bring back Chahal may not have been the best move.
MS Dhoni restakes his claim to 'best finisher' title
After his three sixes off Chahal, Dhoni has the most runs at the death in IPL chases this year. He's smashed 10 of the 48 balls he's faced in the last five for sixes and scored 108 runs in total. His average in chases is now 105, thanks to three not-outs, and 65.50 in victorious chases.
Dustin Silgardo is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo