Chennai Super Kings batsman Suresh Raina in action against Pune Warriors during their T20 match at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. HT Photo
On Monday night, that throw of dice and the early loose deliveries from Dirk Nannes gave Struggling Pune Warriors the platform for a solid start to clinch 24-run victory over formidable Super Kings, Khurram Habib reports.
The MA Chidambaram Stadium didn’t move, nor did the Bay of Bengal, barely two hundred metres away, simmer in excitement when MS Dhoni trusted the ‘miraculous abilities’ of Ravindra Jadeja, pressing him into the attack as early as the second over.
Worse, on a weeknight, there were just a handful of people to see MSD's talisman in action so early.
It was one of those strategies Dhoni thrives on. When they come off, he's hailed as a master strategist.
But Monday night, that throw of dice and the early loose deliveries from Dirk Nannes gave Pune Warriors the platform for their best opening partnership in the tournament.
Aaron Finch, the replacement for Michael Clarke, and an at times circumspect Robin Uthappa put on 96, an effort that in previous games required more than half the PWI batsmen.
Finch took three boundaries in Nannes' first over to set the tone.
PWI got a four in each of the following powerplay overs with Finch getting the bulk.
He wasn't getting paranoid by the sudden spurts of spin and pace that MSD was hurling at him and reached his fifty coolly, even promising this edition's first ton.
But enter Jadeja for his last over, and in quite a filmy manner, he trapped the rampaging Finch. Over the next few overs, Jadeja had his name on the score sheet prominently, taking two catches. The brakes were on.
If any team needs to thank the anti-Sri Lanka protesters here, it has to be Pune Warriors India.
Angelo Mathews and Ajantha Mendis couldn't come and Steven Smith, surprisingly left out of the first few games, checked in with a 16-ball 39.
He started with a couple of fours in the 16th over. Pity he couldn't get much strike in the next two overs.
Anyway, he finished off in style, literally, switch-hitting one over backward point for six.
But against a strong CSK, 159 wasn't going to be enough. And although they lost Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina as three wickets fell for just 40, there were still players to stem the tide and calm the nerves.
And it wasn't Bravo, Dhoni or Morkel… it was Jadeja.
While Badrinath pressed the accelerator, Jadeja, promoted up, helped him add 46 in just over six overs.
And when Dhoni walked in, Jadeja thwacked one for six. Although his magic waned when he got out to an innocuous delivery, his quick 27 had laid a platform.
With Bravo out soon, it was left to Dhoni and his tail, a usual sight. But it was not enough to pull it off on the night.