Super Kings v Royals, IPL 2014, Ranchi May 13, 2014

Super Kings complete typical last-over win


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Huddle - MS Dhoni and the theatre of the absurd

Chennai Super Kings 149 for 5 (Smith 44, Du Plessis 38, Ankit 2-20) beat Rajasthan Royals 148 for 8 (Watson 51, Ankit 30, Mohit 3-31) by five wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

In two of Chennai Super Kings' last three games, they had been left with 11 to get from the last over with MS Dhoni at the crease. Today, against Rajasthan Royals, it came down to 12 from the last over. Dhoni was there, of course, batting on 15. In situations like that, all he needs is one ball in his slot.

It came off the second ball of the over, the first time he was on strike, when James Faulkner angled one across him but pitched it a touch too full. Down came that big bat-swing, and up went the ball, soaring for a flat six over wide long-on. A wide full-toss brought him two runs to deep cover the next ball, and with three needed off three, a push to the same fielder became the winning hit when Faulkner failed to collect Kevon Cooper's throw and gave away an overthrow.

It had all looked very different when Rajasthan Royals, having chosen to bat, had moved to 84 for 1 after 10 overs. Shane Watson was on the cusp of a half-century, and with him was Ajinkya Rahane. Steven Smith and James Faulkner, who had turned certain defeat to exhilarating victory against Royal Challengers Bangalore in the space of four crazy overs, were waiting their turn in the dugout.

But Super Kings pulled things back, with Mohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja proving particularly hard to hit on a slow, grippy surface, and Royals lost seven wickets and scored only 64 in their last 10 overs. Super Kings looked to have made things more difficult for themselves when Dhoni sent in R Ashwin at No. 5 ahead of himself, but Dhoni always leaves it till the end.

Royals sprung a surprise right at the start, opening with Ankit Sharma and Shane Watson instead of Karun Nair and Ajinkya Rahane, who had put on 54 in their previous match.

The new combination laid a solid foundation, starting sedately before the left-handed Ankit greeted R Ashwin by hitting him for two fours and a six in his first over. Ankit put on 60 with Watson before he holed out to long-on while trying to slog Ashwin against the turn.

Apart from one big over against IPL debutant Vijay Shankar, in which he smashed the medium-pacer for a four and two sixes, Watson had also been kept fairly quiet. Royals' 10-over score, therefore, didn't present the full picture of what had gone before. There had been some help for the spinners, and the seamers had been hard to get away when they changed their pace.

It wasn't that much of a surprise, then, that Royals didn't really take off in the last 10 overs. Mohit used his back-of-the-hand slower ball cleverly to pick up three wickets - including those of Watson and Smith, both bowled - and Ravindra Jadeja picked up two with his round-arm darts from left-arm around.

Even so, the extent of Royals' slow-down was startling, and they contributed to it with their endless experimentation - they waited until the end of the 15th over to send in Smith, and until the 18th to send in Faulkner. Both failed to get going, as had Rahane and Nair before them, displaced from the opening slots.

It left Super Kings 149 to get. Dwayne Smith got them going with his cleanly struck hits down the ground, but they lost wickets at the other end, with Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina both unlucky to see their sweeps off Ankit going straight to fielders in the circle.

In Pravin Tambe, Kevon Cooper and Rajat Bhatia, Royals possessed three bowlers designed for this sort of pitch, and their cutters and leg-rollers stalled Super Kings' progress, particularly after Smith's dismissal in the 10th over. Du Plessis and Ashwin cobbled together 29 in 29 balls, leaving Super Kings needing 44 from 30 when Dhoni walked in. It was a tricky equation, considering the conditions, but it could have been even trickier had Royals not fallen away so spectacularly in the second half of their innings.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • vas on May 14, 2014, 9:05 GMT

    Ashwin is not a slogger. Yesterday's match situation was ideal for him to play a test match like innings with faf. Their run a ball partnership of 29 off 29 balls took the match into the final 5 overs. Ideal time for Jadeja and Dhoni to come in and finish the job. On a sluggish pitch Dhoni did the right thing by holding himself back and promoting Ashwin. If dhoni came early and lost his wicket, CSK might have lost the game.

  • Abhishek on May 14, 2014, 8:35 GMT

    There is no better finisher than Dhoni in this world. Go whistlepodu

  • avaneesh on May 14, 2014, 8:13 GMT

    Dhoni is such a finisher that he has created a brand for himself as the best finisher. Now a days the bowlers bowling death overs at him succumb to pressure and bowl exactly to his favorite spots like Falkuner did last night. It is like he controls the minds of death bowlers. Need an equally cool and strong minded bowler to bowl at him the last over to refuse a win to him.

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2014, 7:42 GMT

    well said manoj...its a fact.

  • a on May 14, 2014, 6:49 GMT

    Great Planning. Great Execution. Great Team. Go CSK. CSK's run chase went exactly according to plan. Get quick runs when the ball is hard and shiny. Upto the first strategic timeout, they were at about 9 rpo. Thereafter, things slowed down, with Raina and Smith getting out. Therefore, Faf and Ashwin played exactly the way they should have. Taking singles and scoring about 6 rpo, chipping away at the target and not losing wickets. Not panicking (remember KKR?). It was perfect. Getting 25 in the last two overs was never going to be a problem against RR that does not have a Malinga or Narine. I'd give CSK a 90+% chance of getting it, which they duly did. So, its not about Dhoni being the best finisher or not. Its part of a well thought out plan. Best team in the league.

  • Yousuf on May 14, 2014, 6:43 GMT

    @ ALBERT_CAMBELL funnily enough none of them belong to your team of paper legends. LOL.

  • TR on May 14, 2014, 6:30 GMT

    I am confused regarding Vijay Shankr. Is he off-spinner or medium pace? I thought he bowled medium pace today based on his run-up and pace. Cricinfo and other site says he is an offspinner. ( If he is indeed an offspinner, why would he be used as pace bowler? Why was the debutant introduced to bowl his non-specialist bolwing option that too when the international hitter (Watson) was at the crease that too well settled?

  • Srinivasan on May 14, 2014, 6:20 GMT

    @Albert_cambell: Enough of this hype about AB. He is a great batsman no doubt, but he hasn't won anything important for SA in ODIs and T20s. He isn't a good finisher, Kohli in his young career has won 10 times more for India than AB ever has for SA in his entire career so far. Kohli and Dhoni had done this without a good bowling attack to boast for. Whilst AB is good, Kohli is far better than him in ODIs and T20s. AB is better than Kohli in tests ATM but if Kohli does well in England, I'm sure he'd become #1 in tests too. Kohli and Dhoni are a class above AB in ODIs and T20s.

  • Siva on May 14, 2014, 6:04 GMT

    Dhoni is more focused on the 'process' so the results come more often than not his way. Also Dhoni has two roles- One as a captain and another as a finisher. As a finisher in a T20 game, yesterday he completed the win scoring 44 in 27 balls. Dhoni, as the captain, first ensured that the team gets to that position (by sending Ashwin) and has more than an even chance of winning. In Stock market parlance, achieving a good return with lower risk (lower beta) is any day better than achieving the same or even slightly better return with a much elevated risk. Dhoni as a captain is fantastic in that he keeps the possibility of winning open till very end and gets closer and closer to the win. Look at some of the losses (good example is KKR against RR and the ever popular South Africa chokes) and still people are criticizing Dhoni! This works very well for Dhoni in ODIs and T20 where India is highly ranked.

  • Boromeo on May 14, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    When fans fighting and criticizing over here on whether Dhoni is a best finisher or not, CSK and Indian team just understands Dhoni has cutout the task for everyone. Be it the opening bowler or the death over specialist, he shuffles them very well. Also when it comes to batting, as the team is in safe position Dhoni has started his experiments and also giving the needed chances. Regarding people who question Dhoni doesn't come at first, they need to understand no one can accelerate the innings at the last as fast as him since lot of yorkers are expected and also the bowlers err at the scare on bowling to Dhoni. Its as simple as that. Let Ab, Bevan and Hussey be a better finishers. We have MSD to win the matches. Don't want to prove anything to anyone after winning so many trophies emphatically under his leadership

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