After three consecutive Super Overs on Sunday night in the IPL 2020, Monday witnessed one of the rare non-exciting games in Abu Dhabi.
Of course, the contest between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals was unlikely to play like a Delhi Capitals versus Mumbai Indians tie, but as it turned out, it signaled that Dhoni’s era in IPL is truly over.
“Fair enough, this season we weren’t really there. Also there were few chances to the youngsters. Maybe we didn’t see the kind of spark that they could’ve given us to say okay you know push the experienced guys and make space for them,” spoke Dhoni after the match in a way it seemed he wasn’t talking about the game but how the season had gone for him and his team.
Earlier, Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat first but his team never got going. If an attacking Sam Curran couldn’t do much with the bat (22 off 25) then one can imagine the struggle of the rest of the batsmen. It was evident from Ravindra Jadeja (35 off 30) and Dhoni’s laboured run-a-ball 28. Only the staunchest CSK fan could have thought of a win by setting a target of 125.
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Dhoni himself had said earlier that there was no point keeping wickets in hands and not scoring enough runs with requisite pace. He and his team failed to walk the talk once again as they just kept crawling throughout their batting innings. Just 43 runs were scored in the first six overs and then only 46 more in the next nine.
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If that wasn’t bad enough, they scored only 36 runs in the last five overs. The reason for suffocation was the pressure created by spin duo of Rahul Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal who gave away just 32 runs in 8 overs and picked up two wickets.
Crucially, the pair didn't concede a single boundary and bowled 23 dots between them. “I thought we bowled well in the powerplay. The spinners bowled good lengths, with the googlies and leggies, building a lot of pressure. Tewatia and Shreyas have been sensational for us,” said Steven Smith after the match in his post match presentation with the host broadcaster.
Small passage of drama
There was just a small passage of drama when CSK raised the hope an upset. From 26 for no loss, RR was suddenly 28 for three. Yet, it was just a matter of time after which RR skipper Steve Smith and Jos Buttler took control of things. Buttler scored 70 off 48 balls and went unbeaten. The England wicket-keeper batsman ensured a comprehensive 7-wicket win which now has taken them to the 6th position on the points table.
“Nice to get a win on the board tonight. I tried to come out with some intensity in my batting,” said the Man of the Match Buttler. “Buttler took the pressure off me. I just knocked it around, and he just batted the way he usually does. He always maintains a good strike-rate, “said captain Smith who managed to score 26 runs which was the second highest for his team.
(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter) Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here