MARCH 23, 2019
Brief Scorecard: Chennai Super Kings 71 for 3 (Rayudu 28, Chahal 1-6) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 70 (Parthiv 29, Tahir 3-9, Harbhajan 3-20) by 7 wickets
BENGALURU – Chennai Super Kings’ publicity teams like to call the MA Chidambaram Stadium the “lion’s den”, but no one advertised the minefield that awaited the season opener for this IPL. Royal Challengers Bangalore walked in unsuspectingly, picking in all their innocence just the two spinners whereas Super Kings were stacked with three spinners plus two part-time spinners. As it happened, between them the Super Kings spinners took eight wickets, the highest such number in IPL, and Royal Challengers were bowled out for 70, the sixth-lowest score in IPL history.
Not just the management, Royal Challengers’ batsmen also misread the conditions and didn’t adjust their par total on the fly. Despite spin’s role early in the innings, they still kept going for big shots as opposed to looking to bat through the innings. It was a failing AB de Villiers himself admitted to in an on-field interview during the chase; a ball after he was dropped in the field, he perished trying to hit a six.
This failure to adjust would have hurt Royal Challengers all the more when they saw even the Super Kings batsmen struggle. Another spinner or another 30 runs, and who knows?
We’ve been expecting you, Mr. Singh
Since he last played for Super Kings in the first qualifier of last year’s IPL, Harbhajan Singh had played only three Twenty20 games for no wicket. To accommodate him – zero T20 wickets to his name in the last 10 months – Super Kings sat Faf du Plessis out and played only three overseas players. Whether it was the pitch or the abundance of left-hand batsmen in the Royal Challengers’ line-up, only Dhoni can tell.
With Deepak Chahar bowling a tight spell at the other end, Harbhajan took out the cream of Royal Challengers’ batting: Virat Kohli, Moeen Ali and de Villiers. Only for the third time in the IPL, the first eight overs were bowled out by just two bowlers. Chahar kept it tight with figures of 4-0-17-0, and Harbhajan did the damage with 4-0-20-3.
In the fourth over, Kohli fell to the frustration of dot balls and holed out to deep midwicket. Moeen got one that stopped on him and bounced. At the start of the eight over, de Villiers went to sweep Harbhajan, only for the top edge to be dropped by Imran Tahir at fine leg. The next ball was slightly short, and de Villiers went for the pull, giving Ravindra Jadeja his second catch. Royal Challengers 38 for 3.
There was a lot of anticipation around the debut of Shimron Hetmyer, who has made himself a name for being a power hitter against spin. He had a different job today, but the nerves were palpable. He began his day at the non-striker’s end, and failed to send Parthiv Patel back when there was no single available.
He survived this one, but two balls later he pushed the ball straight to short cover and ran off. Parthiv was having none of it, and Hetmyer was run out for a duck on debut. Royal Challengers 39 for 4 in eight overs.
Tahir runs amok
Quite literally. The pitch offered him prodigious turn, and Imran Tahir was nigh unplayable with his wicked concoction of fast legbreaks, wrong ‘uns and flippers. He took wickets with his second, seventh and 16th balls, and ran all over the MA Chidambaram Stadium in celebration. He had figures of 4-1-9-3 at the end.
Ravindra Jadeja at the other end was not half bad, getting Colin de Grandhomme caught at the wicket and flattening Umesh Yadav’s off stump. Parthiv came close to registering a dubious distinction – for the team – of carrying his bat, but was the last man out, caught at square leg off the first ball from Dwayne Bravo. Nonetheless, he was the only man to enter double figures.
Minor scare but Rayudu anchors chase
Royal Challengers had no choice but to look for wickets and use spin to that end. They opened with Yuzvendra Chahal, who sent Shane Watson back for a duck. This was a difficult pitch, it was plain to see. Ambati Rayudu, though, batted smartly, picking his targets – often pace – and did enough to see his side through. There was enough time for Suresh Raina to get 19 and become the first man to 5000 IPL runs.