Chennai Super Kings (CSK) survived some late order scares to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the final eliminator match in Ranchi in the Indian Premier League and set up a summit clash with Mumbai Indians on Sunday in Kolkata. On a slow and low pitch that suited their bowling attack to the T, Chennai restricted RCB to a modest 139. While the chase was not entirely a cakewalk, CSK aced it with one ball and three wickets to spare, in spite of a panic-ridden late order collapse. They won the match by three wickets.
MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to field first, perhaps considering the fact that chasing teams have won four of the five matches in Ranchi. Bangalore’s big hitters found scoring tough against the canny Chennai bowlers on a difficult pitch.
Chris Gayle struggled for timing. Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Mandeep Sing got out without contributing much. Gayle labored to a near run-a-ball 41. Once he got out, Dinesh Karthik (28 off 26 balls) and the young Sarfaraz Khan (31 off 21 balls) somehow hit boundaries to take the score to 139 for eight. Ashish Nehra was the pick of the Chennai bowlers. He accounted for both Kohli and de Villiers.
CSK too began the chase in stuttered fashion. Dwayne Smith got out early. Michael Hussey and Faf du Plessis took the score the 58 in nine overs. Yuzvendra Chahal claimed two wickets in the 10th over to make the chase more difficult. Virat Kohli inexplicably took off Chahal after that over, which allowed Hussey and Dhoni to settle down.
Hussey was in terrific nick as kept the scoreboard moving with timely boundaries and sixes. Hussey’s brilliance allowed a struggling Dhoni to take his time to find his scoring range. By the time Chahal came back, the duo was well set. Hussey lofted Chahal for two sixes to turn the match decisively in CSK’s favour.
However, CSK could not complete the win comfortably. Hussey eventually got out after making a 46-ball 56. They still needed 32 runs from 21 balls. Pawan Negi and Dhoni hit timely boundaries to ease the required run rate. All they needed was five runs from the last eight balls.
Negi and Dwayne Bravo got out in consecutive deliveries, meaning CSK needed five runs off the last over. Dhoni took four runs from the first three balls and then got out in the fourth. R Ashwin scored perhaps the most important single of his IPL career to complete a scratchy win to book their place in the final.
Ashish Nehra is the man of the match.