Rayudu, Dhoni blitz sinks RCB

Ambati Rayudu and Mahendra Singh Dhoni staged a sensational counter-attack as Chennai Super Kings pulled off a stunning coup over Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Wednesday.

Staring down the barrel at 74/4 while chasing a hugely competitive target of 206, Rayudu (82, 53b, 3x4, 8x6) and skipper Dhoni (70 not out, 34b, 1x4, 7x6) first resurrected the innings with a brilliant 101-run fifth-wicket partnership before the latter finished off the high-speed chase with a typical six over long-on to send the Chinnaswamy Stadium into raptures.

The Royal Challengers have only themselves to blame for the morale-shattering defeat as yet again their bowling came a cropper. The Super Kings needed 71 runs off the last five overs but with ace bowlers Umesh Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal already bowled out, the rest couldn’t put their hands up, getting severely caned by Rayudu and Dhoni.

Earlier though, the brilliance of AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock saw RCB post their highest total of the season. In great form this IPL, de Villiers was in a murderous mood from the time he took strike, hammering a 30-ball 68 (2x4, 8x6) — his third half-century of the season — while de Kock finally found some rhythm, hitting a 37-ball 53 (1x4, 4x6).

Sensing the need to clinch this high-profile contest, RCB openly accepted the invitation to take first strike on a beauty of a batting wicket. De Kock and skipper Virat Kohli, who has always found an extra gear against CSK, were off the blocks comfortably before the latter fell against the run of play.

The crowd, however, weren’t entirely unhappy but rather roared in delight as de Villiers trudged out. And all of them got their monies worth as the 34-year-old gave another demonstration of his class and skill. He took veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh out of the attack in the sixth over by carting him for two sixes and a boundary — all three shots leaving the bowler bemused.

De Villiers was also particularly harsh on another spinner, his South African colleague Imran Tahir.

Never allowing the tweaker, or anyone actually, to settle down, de Villiers sunk into Tahir in the 11th over, first reverse-sweeping him for a four, then sweeping him for a maximum before depositing the fourth ball into the roof of the stadium.

At the other end, de Kock also motored on at a quick pace as RCB threatened to post an enormous score. However, like it has happened so often this season, they lost wickets in a cluster that derailed their march.

De Kock perished in the 14th over and the in-coming Corey Anderson struggled to put bat to ball. That pressure got onto de Villiers and he followed de Kock to the dug-out before Anderson joined them without contributing much.

Mandeep and Colin de Grandhomme then staged a resurrection as RCB got themselves out of the hole to set CSK a stiff target. Rayudu and Dhoni ensured that was overpowered in style.

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