IPL 2022: Batting clicks as CSK taste first victory

After back-to-back sixes from Dinesh Karthik, Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked up to Mukesh Choudhary, advising the medium pacer to bowl full and wide outside off. Choudhary did that but Karthik had pre-empted it. He scooped the ball for a four.

Once Chennai Super Kings got to 216/4, it was a tall order for Royal Challengers Bangalore. The top order didn’t contribute much and Glenn Maxwell’s promising cameo was nipped in the bud. But as long as Karthik was there, RCB hoped. In the end, however, as the asking rate climbed to 16, Karthik had no support at the other end, and his dismissal for a 14-ball 34 was the game. RCB, 193/9, lost by 23 runs. After four straight defeats, CSK had their first ‘Whistle Podu’ moment in this year’s IPL.

Dube the aggressor

A marginal leg-before decision went against Ruturaj Gaikwad, at a time when the opener looked to be finding his touch. It was a typical case of things going against a batsman when he is not in form. Gaikwad was hit on the back thigh and ball-tracking showed the ball just clipping the bails. He was out on umpire’s call.

Then, Moeen Ali fell prey to a brilliant piece of fielding; Suyash Prabhudessai diving to his left to stop a fierce cut and effecting a run-out. Moeen was off straightaway, to the point of no return.

37/2 after seven overs on the heels of another poor Powerplay (35/1), and it felt like CSK was hit by Murphy’s Law – what could go wrong was going wrong. But the defending champions refused to give in. They responded spectacularly instead.

A minor batting tweak saw Dube coming at No. 4 ahead of Ambati Rayudu. It turned out to be a tactical masterstroke. CSK needed to break the shackles. Dube was their designated aggressor. The team’s average run rate between the seventh and 15th overs before this game was seven-plus. Here, it jumped to in excess of 10. In the last five overs, CSK hammered 83 runs.

Dube’s arrival turned the game on its head. He attacked Akash Deep, swung merrily for a 94-metre six off Glenn Maxwell and took the attack to the opposition. In Harshal Patel’s absence – he has left the bubble due to a family bereavement and his teammates sported black armbands – RCB captain Faf du Plessis held back Wanindu Hasaranga. When the leg-spinner came on in the 11th over, Dube welcomed him with a towering six over long-on. A four followed. By then, Uthappa, too, was in the mood.

Dube didn’t spare Josh Hazlewood either, before laying into Akash Deep. After a couple of sixes and a four in an over, the Bengal medium pacer looked rattled, bowling a hat-trick of wides. Dube’s fifty came off 30 balls. He ended up scoring the highest individual score in this IPL yet – 95 not out off 46 balls, including five fours and eight sixes.

As he walked off at the end of the innings, Dhoni patted him on the back. The entire CSK dug-out stood up to acknowledge a special innings. But Dube was disappointed. He needed a six off the final ball to reach three figures. The left-hander got a single via a dropped catch.

Robin the batman

Uthappa’s knock was resplendent in its maturity. He preferred a slow burn, pretty sensible, given that CSK needed someone from the top order to bat deep. This has been their recipe for success over the years, at least one batsman from the top three batting long and pacing his innings well.

Until the 12th over, Uthappa was going around a-run-a-ball, happy to play second fiddle to Dube, who was doing the bulk of the scoring. Then, in one Maxwell over, he exploded with three sixes. Mohammed Siraj was taken to the cleaners with a 17-run over. A no-ball reprieve dropped a hint that the rub of the green was finally going CSK’s way. Fortune was favouring the bold.

Uthappa’s 50-ball 88, including four fours and nine sixes, and his 165-run (74 balls) third-wicket partnership with Dube took the game away from RCB. CSK revelled in the duo’s batting vandalism.

Finishing touches

Maheesh Theekshana went wicketless in the last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad. On Tuesday, on a surface that assisted his bowling, the off-spinner returned with 4/33 in four overs. The scalps of Suyash Prabhudessai and Shahbaz Ahmed in quick succession were timely interventions. The two RCB youngsters were having a good partnership in the middle.

Jadeja, too, bagged three wickets (3/39), with Maxwell being the most important. Defending a 200-plus total, it was imperative for CSK to get rid of Maxwell quickly. Choudhary, a net bowler until last season, would savour Virat Kohli’s wicket. But he must improve his fielding. Two dropped catches somewhat ruined his evening. Dropping Karthik could have been costly.

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