After the Chennai Super Kings huffed and puffed their way to a close win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore here on Wednesday, one had mixed feelings about Murali Vijay. For someone earmarked to have a big role with future India teams, Vijay was having a poor IPL III.
But on Wednesday, Vijay came to the party, big time. His penchant for big hitting, which flickered briefly against the Rajasthan Royals in the previous match, burned bright at the Chepauk and singed the Royal Challengers’ new-ball attack.
Vijay’s assault continued even after Anil Kumble had Matthew Hayden stumped off a googly. When he finally got out, the Super Kings needed just over a run a ball. But, Vijay should really have finished the job because the hosts still needed some late heroics from Suresh Raina to win by five wickets.
Earlier, after Kumble won the toss, the Super Kings were again left with the task of chasing a total, something they had failed to do successfully in the previous two home matches. And they dropped Robin Uthappa, who probably made the difference between the two sides the last time they met, on zero and then saw him smash 17 off five balls in the next over.
However, left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati soon got Uthappa out, caught by Manpreet Gony who had dropped him earlier. And Muttiah Muralitharan was miserly.
After the tight overs in the middle, only some late hitting from Kevin Pietersen and Cameron White took the total beyond 160. In the end it was not enough.
Before the match started, flags and T-shirts of both the Super Kings and the Royal Challengers were selling outside the stadium. “We paid Rs 30 for a Challengers’ flag,” said Surya, who hails from Bangalore but works in Chennai. He came to watch the match with friends, Sarvanan and Subhash, all Royal Challengers’ fans.
Inside the stadium, too, the red shirts and flags of the visiting side were clearly visible in the stands. There were quite a few empty seats as well. The early start on a weekday must have been a factor.
Maybe things will change now.