Chennai Super Kings 216 for 4 (Dube 95*, Uthappa 88) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 193 for 9 (Shahbaz 41, Karthik 34, Theekshana 4-33) with 23 runs
It was almost 2007 again: vintage Uthappa walking on fast bowlers and knocking them flat over the head or in the leg sides, and Dube calling to Yuvraj Singh with his languid, free-flowing hits. Together, they hit 17 sixes to go with 12 fours in the innings; while both had their highest IPL scores, Dube came in within six out of a hundred and Uthappa came in short by 12.
In response, some catches and questionable choices by bowlers produced tense moments towards the end, even after Royal Challengers were 50 for 4 and 146 for 8. It wasn’t until Dinesh Karthik first came out in this IPL, with 46 required out of 17, that that Super Kings could finally breathe easy.
RCB suffocates CSK at the start
Ruturaj Gaikwad’s poor IPL continued as he fell to Hazlewood’s machine-like lengths with the new ball. Moeen Ali was eliminated by sharp fielding from debutant Suyash Prabhudessai to make it 36 for 2 in the seventh over. With Glenn Maxwell’s early spin, Royal Challengers somehow managed to reduce this IPL’s fastest powerplay batter, Uthappa, to 23 out of 22 in the first 10 overs.
All hell is breaking loose
Royal Challengers delayed introducing Wanindu Hasaranga, probably due to the presence of a lefthanded batter, but he was brought in in the 11th over. Dube immediately fired at him and hit him for a six and a four. In the 12th over, he hit Shahbaz’s left arm six more times. Not to be outdone, Uthappa sent Maxwell over the larger leg-side boundary for three sixes in the 13th.
The offense was good and real, and Royal Challengers, the worst death bowling match of this tournament, had no answers in the absence of Harshal Patel, who missed this match due to the death of his sister.
The hitting was so clean that Super Kings didn’t have to worry about hitting the bigger line. Uthappa played some cute ramps, but Dube just sat deep in the fold and smoothly punished mistakes in length. And there were plenty of mistakes. When Mohammed had Siraj caught Uthappa at the end of the 17th, it turned out that he had gone too far.
Akash Deep received the most severe punishment, but no one was spared. Hazlewood’s back two went for 12 and 15, Siraj conceded 18 on his last over, and Hasaranga took 13, 13 and 14. Starting with a run, both players were ready for hundreds, but Uthappa found a deep midwicket trying to go from 88 to 94 in the 19th. Dube started the final over 80, came to 94 with the last ball to go, but managed to send a low full toss straight to long-off.
Bad start from RCB
Royal Challengers were the second slowest party in the power play of this IPL, preferring to set themselves up for acceleration in the mid and death overs, but they didn’t have that luxury in the 217 chase. Super Kings played their matchups perfectly, giving them a healthy dose of spin early on.
When Maheesh Theekshana started the third over at 11 to 0, someone had to take a chance. du Plessis did, but Theekshana was good enough to cramp him and give him a catch for long. Kohli tried to get out against Mukesh Choudhary in the fourth over but found a long leg. Theekshana ended the power play by trapping Anuj Rawat lbw with a carrombal.
Maxwell’s entry gave way to Ravindra Jadeja to bowl, who then brought in Maxwell for the seventh time in 13 innings. Five of those layoffs have been bowled, the highest for a bowler against a batter in all of T20 cricket.
Prabhudessai, Shahbaz delay the inevitable
Prabhudessai continued his impressive debut as he and Shahbaz rebuilt the innings with a collaboration of 60 runs in 5.3 overs. Prabhudessai started off with limits through midwicket and extra cover, but also showed off his reverse sweep and the slope. Shabaz was more diligent and had to work harder for his runs.
Theekshana almost closes the deal
Theekshana came back to take the wickets from both Prabhudessai and Shahbaz, doing enough to get a five-for, but Choudhary dropped a sitter from Karthik, his third miss of the evening. On the face of it, Karthik gave Super Kings some nervous moments, especially when they chose to hand over the 17th to Choudhary when they had had enough of Bravo and Chris Jordan. Karthik took 23 off, reducing the requirement from 71 to 48.
Finally, in the 19th left, a catch stalled as Bravo caused Karthik to hit the larger leg-side border on the edge of which Captain Jadeja was. He will be relieved that his side is finally on the board, but Super Kings could have easily won by 50-60 more, which could have a big impact on the net run rate.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo