Rising Pune Supergiants v Kings XI Punjab, IPL 2016, Visakhapatnam May 21, 2016

Dhoni's last-over heroics seals Supergiants win

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Rising Pune Supergiants 173 for 6 (Dhoni 64*, Khawaja 30, Gurkeerat 2-15) beat Kings XI Punjab 172 for 7 (Vijay 59, Gurkeerat 51, Ashwin 4-34) by four wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

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Highlights - Ice-cool Dhoni takes Supergiants home

This wasn't the deadest of dead rubbers. Two knocked-out teams - Rising Pune Supergiants and Kings XI Punjab - were desperate not to finish at the bottom of the pile. It ultimately boiled down to 12 off the last two balls, with MS Dhoni, the fading star, facing off against Axar Patel, the rising star. Dhoni unleashed his attacking avatar to bring back memories of his heyday; his back-to-back sixes over midwicket delivered Supergiants a sensational four-wicket win in Visakhapatnam.

The final over began with Supergiants needing 23. M Vijay's key men in the end overs - Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma - had bowled out. Axar was in the hot seat. Dhoni may have struggled for timing and power throughout the season, but this wasn't beyond him.

He flatly refused a single after mis-hitting the first ball - a short fizzer - to deep midwicket. The next ball - a wide bouncer down leg side - was well stopped by Wriddhiman Saha. The second legitimate ball was fired too full and Dhoni's responded with a mighty club over long-on. The next one was darted short and wide outside off as Dhoni slapped it to sweeper cover, where Hashim Amla dived full-length to his left to save a certain boundary. Dhoni, in anticipation of a four, was unmoved and Supergiants missed out on two runs. It was clear he backed himself to finish it off.

Axar then sent down a short ball outside off, which Dhoni flat-batted over cover for a one-bounce four to reduce the equation down to 12 off two. The Supergiants captain sealed it with twin sixes and finished with 64 not out off 32 balls. He later said it could have been the "kind of game the team wanted to win to get into the knockouts."

Dhoni had joined Thisara Perera in the 14th over after Supergiants were reduced to 86 for 5 in a chase of 173. Perera was the first to tee off with three boundaries off fast bowler Kyle Abbott in the 16th over. Then, when Sandeep missed his yorker by an inch of two, Dhoni smeared two off-side fours in the 18th over to bring the equation down to 29 off 12 balls.

A ball later, Thisara swung wildly only to nick Mohit behind. Dhoni carved the third ball away for four, but Mohit hit back to give away only one run off the next three balls - a cutter and two pinpoint yorkers. As it turned out, Mohit's variety wasn't enough as Kings XI were left to rue what could have been, considering how well they started with the ball.

The seamers stuck to disciplined lines and lengths and subdued Ajinkya Rahane and Usman Khawaja. Gurkeerat Singh Maan reaped the rewards with his handy offspin when he dismissed Saurabh Tiwary and Khawaja in the 12th over.

Gurkeerat's role wasn't just to bottle up the runs with the ball. Earlier, he had brought up his maiden IPL half-century, which included three fours and three sixes. His 58-run stand for the third wicket with Vijay helped lay the platform for Kings XI's eventual total of 172 for 7.

While Vijay took his time early on, Amla did the early running with three whipped fours, including two in the first over off Irfan Pathan. Vijay shifted gears when he slammed seamer Deepak Chahar for successive boundaries in the fifth over. Amla brought up Kings XI's first fifty-plus opening stand in the last seven matches with a lofted cover drive for six.

The subsequent introduction of spin, however, applied the brakes on the innings. While R Ashwin claimed 4 for 34, his best IPL figures, Adam Zampa enhanced his growing reputation with 1 for 32. He got the ball to turn, bounce, and dip, even as Vijay completed his fourth half-century in eight games as Kings XI captain.

A slog to a straighter one from Ashwin bowled Vijay by the 16th over. Kings XI then plundered 48 off the last four overs, but they were left with the wooden spoon for the second successive season.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • thaith5668123 on May 24, 2016, 6:18 GMT

    For me dhonis contribution to Indian cricket - is first as a captain, then as a all time great wicket keeper and last as a batsman - even though he is known to be the best finisher batsman in cricket history...people forget his hold over the game behind stumps ..Australians will argue Adam Gilchrist was better than him ..but I don't agree..also his reading of which bowlers to play ...of how to turn things over is incomprehensible ...I'm not saying he is 100 % successful..but how many countless times he changes the momentum of the game by giving the over to a less competent bowler and producing a wicket ( it's not luck if it happens many times) ..have we forgotten lousy Indian wicketkeepers who can't take a given opportunity and compare it with dhoni who creates opportunity when there is none as a wicket keeper..even if dhoni doesn't bat a single ball ..he is irreplaceable as a captain and a wicketkeeper ..

  • thaith5668123 on May 24, 2016, 5:42 GMT

    If it was any other country in the world...No one in the media & fans would have suspected MS Dhoni to be anything less than a once in a life time cricketer who not only "Upgraded" the level of competency for Indian cricket team ( like no one before) but also taught how cricket is a team game like football is to all the cricket playing nations in the world...Australians watched him closely and their greats have only RESPECT for this man whose moves are so instinct based & beyond common logic as a captain. Since dhoni became the indian captain - we understood how retaining wickets is more important even when runs to score is pretty high.....to play with patience ..look at IPL 2008to 2011 CSK how it played compared to the rest of the teams...Before dhoni individual heroics were celebrated - after dhoni every team plays like a team, before dhoni - captains use to play their best bowlers one after another, after dhoni they have learnt to sharpen their skills & play them selectively..

  • Prateek on May 24, 2016, 1:42 GMT

    This awesome feat deserved a better written repot

  • J on May 23, 2016, 13:27 GMT

    Dhoni fans seem to have been be blinded by their infatuation. We are talking of 2 separate things. Dhoni was always average as an captain& won matches with his exceptional batting(also helped by having a strong team, groomed by dravid/ ganguly-something dhoni has not done for his successor). If dhoni's captaincy was brilliant, why could he not do more with the pune team? The answer is obvious i.e he relies on his batting to win matches& these wins earn him the reputation of a good captain. When his batting fails, as it has in the last couple of years, the wins become rare& the average captaincy& poor player selection are badly exposed. He might have won world cups but with strong contributions from other players (like yuvraj& others whom dhoni tried to sideline later), so the credit is to the team instead of dhoni's captaincy. Also this is in the past and we cannot retain a player based on past performances when his current form for the last few years has been mediocre.

  •   Anand Raj on May 23, 2016, 6:34 GMT

    this innings is just to retain his place in team as captain or a least as a player otherwise he would be fired by any means

  • Krishen on May 23, 2016, 4:29 GMT

    IND has produced many a great cricketer but 5 biggest jewels in crown of IND cricket are 1. Sachin 2. Dhoni 3. Gavaskar 4. Kapil 5. Dravid. MSD with his performances as player & captain has leapfrogged as the best ever captain in all forms of world cricket in history of the game. Despite skipping easy 40+ ODI matches, 170+ victories in international matches including 3 world titles, 80+ wins in IPL (2 IPL & 2 CPL titles) by MSD as captain remain unparalleled. Victories have been achieved with a different set of players & with better teams like AUS/SA/ENG as competitors. Cricket is a team sport where team has to perform in batting/bowling/fielding. Concluding captaincy as good / bad after a team win / team loss is wrong. RPS had resource shortfall for MSD compared to IPL8. RPS campaign has been affected by injury to key players. Replacements haven't performed. RPS missed 5 wins through errors including 5 run outs in power play. More great performances from MSD are surely in pipeline.

  • wilson on May 22, 2016, 23:46 GMT

    Dhoni as a captain has more titles, laurels to show not just any games but many games time and over. This was a battle minor but being a wicket-keeper batsman along with the pressures of being a captain he has done enough to be counted among the elite finishers if any in the world. There are 10 other players 5 of them playing as batsmen and bowlers, if they did their jobs well dhoni would not be in the hot seat time and time again. Having dhoni behind them should allow the batsmen freedom and confidence to play better but if not for dhoni we would know the results. People who are hankering for a change I'm challenging who among the current wicketkeeper batsmen would you replace with in a crunch situation, Saha, NV Ojha, samson, patel. surely we have seen them play and I would leave them in the dugout to watch the game so just enjoy dhoni's game while it lasts cause there is no like replacement anywhere and except for kohli even among the top batsmen. Dhoni you have served Indian Fans

  • Vinod on May 22, 2016, 18:00 GMT

    Hahaha. It took Axar Patel's dollies to feed Dhoni to redeem himself somewhat. But let these "heroics" fool nobody. Any other bowler worth his salt would have given only half the runs in the final over. Dhoni is a spent force for 2+ years now.

  • James Sebastain on May 22, 2016, 17:05 GMT

    Dhoni play with a good battting

  • Steve on May 22, 2016, 16:19 GMT

    A little flourish from MS too late. Will it be his last on a cricket field?

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