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Rayudu, Dhoni pull off 206-run chase, CSK surge to the top

Dhoni sealed the match for CSK with six, with two balls to spare.

Half-centuries from AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock were overshadowed by those from Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni as Chennai Super Kings surged to the top of the table by chasing down a target of 206 with five wickets in hand and two deliveries to spare. As many as 33 sixes were scored in the high-scoring, high-octane clash at the M Chinnaswamy stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday (April 25) and the one that sealed the deal was a familiar one – off Dhoni’s bat – which helped CSK become the first team to pull off a successful 200-plus chase at RCB’s den.

How did CSK begin the chase?

Like a volatile stock market – surge and fall. They hit the straps straightaway. Although Shane Watson fell to Pawan Negi after scoring a six, in the opening over, Rayudu and Suresh Raina made sure to put the RCB pacers under the pump. Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Siraj leaked runs as CSK took only five overs to reach the 50-run mark. However, RCB turned it around in excellent fashion. It was an brilliant display of fast bowling from Yadav as he finished with figures of 1 for 23 – sending down all his four overs at one go and accounting for Raina. At the other end, Yuzvendra Chahal was weaving magic of his own. With plenty of turn on offer, he drew Sam Billings out of his crease to have him stumped, followed by a quick, turning delivery to defeat Ravindra Jadeja on the cut. At 74 for 4 after nine overs, Dhoni had a lot to do.

What was CSK’s plan?

Probably play out Umesh and Chahal, and have a go at the rest. When Chahal ended his spell with figures of 2 for 26, CSK were 107 for 4 after 13. However, Rayudu and Dhoni lay in wait for the likes of Negi and Corey Anderson to come into the attack and once they were in, it was time for some fireworks. The horde of yellow at Chinnaswamy were in for plenty of entertainment as Dhoni and Rayudu dealt in a flurry of sixes to power CSK to 151 for 4 after 16 overs. To make matters worse for RCB, Umesh put down a chance offered by Rayudu when he was on 61, much to the disappointment of Anderson.

How did RCB respond to that?

Unsuccessfully. The required run rate was 13.75 at the end of the 16th over and it climbed to 15 when Siraj bowled a decent over. Defending 45 off the last three, Kohli threw the ball to Anderson, who gave away 15 and a direct hit also accounted for Rayudu in the same over. Siraj’s first five deliveries of the penultimate over yielded nine runs but he couldn’t complete a good follow up act as he bowled three wides and conceded a couple off his final delivery, which brought it down to 16 off the final over, which Dwayne Bravo and Dhoni knocked off without much fuss.

How did RCB fare after being asked to bat?

52 in the powerplay – par with the average PP score in Bengaluru – despite losing Virat Kohli early. At 35 for 1 after five overs, with Thakur managing a wicket-maiden, RCB didn’t have the best of powerplays until de Villiers decided to do what he does best – take on the bowlers. While de Kock was focussed on strike rotation and supplemented it with some boundary shots, de Villiers had switched on the brutality mode. De Villiers registered a 23-ball fifty while de Kock got his off 35 balls, and a century stand was raised off 49 deliveries as the second wicket pair provided the perfect launch pad, helping RCB to 138 for 1 after 13 overs.

How did CSK pull it back?

Through Bravo and Imran Tahir. Bravo’s smart change of pace accounted for de Kock. The over turned out to be the second wicket maiden of the day, forcing de Villiers to try and get a move on. In that attempt, he got out to Tahir, who also accounted for Anderson the very next ball. At 142 for 4 after 15, it was pressure on RCB’s middle order – an Achilles Heel for them over the years – to deliver.

Did they deliver?

Yes, they did – thanks to Mandeep Singh. In the presence of some of his illustrious teammates, the 26-year-old Punjab batsman had flown under the radar but today was a golden opportunity to prove his utility. He made sure to capitalise on that opportunity. By sweeping and reverse-sweeping Jadeja for a six and a four, and clearing the straight boundaries off Thakur, Mandeep ensured that RCB’s scoring rate did not dip after the key wickets that CSK managed earlier. When he eventually departed in the penultimate over, he had scored 32 at a strike rate of 188.23 which was crucial in the context of RCB’s finish, with Washington Sundar’s six and a four off Bravo in the final over ensuring RCB’s first 200-plus total of the season, although it proved insufficient in the end.

Where did RCB go wrong?

In their choice and usage of resources. Anderson’s failed with the bat yet again, adding to the pressure on the RCB middle order and his bowling – 3.4 overs, 58 runs, no wickets – is something both the team and Anderson himself would like to consider a bad dream. By bowling out Umesh and Chahal early, RCB lacked a penetrative option in the latter part of their bowling innings. Colin de Grandhomme wasn’t used with the ball at all and Sundar was given only one over, probably due to apprehensiveness on the part of the RCB skipper. But he didn’t have too many other options to get the job done, and his investments in this game turned out counter-productive. Their batting clicked, even after the abrupt departure of de Villiers, although maybe more runs could have been added had the South African star been around for a few more overs. But their bowling horrors after the 10th over mark has continued to haunt them and unless they find a way to plug that hole, the journey forward will be an arduous one.

Where do the teams go from here?

Royal Challengers have a three-day break to introspect and re-think strategies before they take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday in their fifth home game of the season. Super Kings will travel back to Pune to take on Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

Brief scores: RCB 205/8 in 20 overs (AB de Villiers 68, Quinton de Kock 53; Dwayne Bravo 2-33, Imran Tahir 2-35) lost to CSK 207/5 in 19.4 overs (Ambati Rayudu 82, MS Dhoni 70; Yuzvendra Chahal 2-26) by 5 wickets

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