Super Kings prove too hot for RCB again

Super Kings prove too hot for RCB again

For the third time this season, Chennai Super Kings defended a low total with tigerish zeal to regain the top spot with what in the end proved to be a comfortable win for the home side.

Suresh Raina (52, 46b, 5x4, 1x6) and Ashish Nehra (3/19) once again proved to the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s nemesis in a low-scoring affair here at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Monday. Super Kings’ bowling was purposeful and fielding was outstanding as the visitors found the going hard.

Opting to bat first, Super Kings could only manage 148/9 against some tidy bowling show by the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Mitchell Starc (3/24) was outstanding once again while Harshal Patel (2/19) came up with another fine show as Super Kings looked short of at least 15-20 runs. However, the faltering Royal Challengers’ batting, in the absence of a rested Chris Gayle, imploded in stunning fashion to suffer 24-run defeat after folding up for 124 in 19.4 overs.

Nic Maddinson, Gayle’s replacement, was out in the third over while AB de Villiers (21, 14b, 4x4) didn’t last long after a brisk start. Mandeep Singh was run out without facing a ball and it was left to Virat Kohli (48, 44b, 2x4, 1x6) to steer the team home. The skipper looked well on course to end Royal Challengers’ four-match winless streak in IPL against Super Kings here with a 63-run (52b) stand in the company of Dinesh Karthik but a brilliant piece of fielding by Dwayne Bravo (2/17) turned the match on its head.

After blocking a Bravo yorker, Kohli stepped out of the crease on follow through and the West Indian plucked the ball and threw back in a flash to catch Kohli short of crease. Karthik was out in the next over pulling Nehra and after that it was all downhill for the Royal Challengers. They remained on nine points from as many matches while Super Kings consolidated their position at the top with 14 points.   

Earlier, Starc got the visitors to a dream start with a wicket-maiden, cleaning up the dangerous Dwayne Smith with a straight delivery after setting him up with five outswingers. The early dismissal of Smith forced his partner Brendon McCullum to embrace some restraint. Though the Kiwi batsman picked a four here and Raina a six there, the disciplined Royal Challengers’ attack didn’t allow the batsmen to get on top of them. Just when McCullum was looking to open up, he was out while failing to clear Iqbal Abdulla at mid-wicket off David Wiese.

Raina and Faf du Plessis set about the repair job milking the attack. While the Challengers’ bowlers gave little away in terms of line or length, the slow nature of the pitch didn’t allow the batsmen the luxury of carefree stroke play. Also, given Super Kings’ batting struggles in the past couple of matches, the duo played a largely risk-free game though Raina took a special liking to left-arm spinner Abdulla, who had replaced Varun Aaron in the side.

Raina, who hardly misses an opportunity to score against Royal Challengers, came up with the second fifty of the season (his first half-century came against same opponents in Bengaluru) and together with du Plessis added an innings-stabilising 64 off 52 balls. The two appeared well set to accelerate when Harshal Patel (2/19) pegged Super Kings back with twin strikes in his last over and innings’ 15th. Du Plessis chopped the first ball of the over on to his stumps while Raina was trapped in front. With two set batsmen gone, Super Kings found it hard to gather any momentum. Not even MS Dhoni’s 18-ball-29 (2x4, 2x6) could take them past the 150-mark as Starc gave away just four runs in the final over which saw Super Kings lose three wickets, including a run-out.
             

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