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Super Kings show off their depth

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Agarkar: Nehra is keeping it simple (3:27)

Ajit Agarkar and Gaurav Kalra discuss Ashish Nehra's performance in the match between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings (3:27)

Chennai Super Kings are like a magician's handkerchief of match-winners. Pull on the end and it unfurls one after another after another.

And Royal Challengers Bangalore did pull. They got rid of Brendon McCullum in the second over, only to run into Suresh Raina. They toppled three batsmen, including captain MS Dhoni, for nine runs as the final overs approached only to bear witness to Faf du Plessis' audition for finisher. Still 182 is not an insurmountable target at M Chinnaswamy Stadium - a haven for chasing teams and six-hitters. Perhaps Ashish Nehra just likes odds stacked against him.

He is 35 years old, but fit enough to clock 140 kph. He has spent the last four years out of the Indian team, but maintains a yorker that he can execute repeatedly, under pressure and more often than not to the detriment of the stumps. Over the last two years - 45 innings across formats in domestic and IPL cricket - there have only been nine occasions of him not picking up a wicket.

All four of Nehra's overs today were delivered at crucial junctures. At the top, he dismissed the openers to chop the score from 31 for 0 in three overs to 33 for 2 six balls later. At the death, he took out Virat Kohli on 51, Harshal Patel the next ball and ended up a David Wiese outside edge short of a hat-trick. But 4-0-10-4 should suffice.

Super Kings had introduced the world to Sir Jadeja on Twitter two years ago. Now they've got #Nehra ji (Mr Nehra) doing the rounds. His perennial shortcoming though is in the field. Luckily for him and the hashtag the rest of his team-mates are better equipped.

A du Plessis stunner at mid-off reminded batsmen everywhere that the 10-yard radius around him is restricted air space. And it isn't too hard to imagine McCullum sulking if he doesn't get to bolt after a ball, dive headlong at it inches before the boundary and alter its course. The prize wicket came via a run-out as well and everyone in the stadium knew it.

There had been a spectacular chant war going on throughout the match. Specks of yellow spouting "C-S-K!" Hordes of red retaliating with "R-C-B!" Often times it became a garbled, unrecognisable combination of the two. But when Dhoni caught AB de Villiers short of his ground, there was only one clear and long rumble: C-S-K.

The result of their improved fielding and bowling is that Super Kings' batting looks a lot shinier, and Raina has long been their crown jewel. Yellow jersey on, his method is comfortingly simple. Hit straight and hit hard, tactics that can be trusted even in delicate situations like a wicket having fallen the previous ball.

Raina's first scoring shot was a four, albeit mis-hit, down the ground. His response to a tight over was lunging down the pitch and lofting the ball. Never does he go half-hearted. Royal Challengers erred by allowing him a free licence on the front foot - only three of the 32 balls he faced were short or shortish - and he came away with 62 runs. Forty-three of them were scored against 13 balls of spin.

While Raina was not asked to fudge his game plan much, du Plessis was saddled with a role he isn't accustomed to. A top-order batsman all his life, he strode in during the 15th over and delivered another testimonial that orthodox cricket has a place in T20. He constructed his own lines and lengths by manipulating the crease with nimble footwork, but his 33 off 18 balls at a strike rate of 183 were a result of calculated cricketing shots.

Could Super Kings have won if any of those contributions hadn't happened? Evidence from the season so far suggests someone would have put their hands up. Nehra and Dwayne Bravo tied up Delhi Daredevils. McCullum and Dhoni dissected Sunrisers Hyderabad, McCullum and Dwayne Smith blitzed Mumbai Indians. Who is it going to be next time?