Chennai Super Kings players celebrate after they won match against Royal Challengers Bangalore during the IPL - 5 match at MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai. PTI Photo/R Senthil Kumar
Even for the slam-bang finishes that Twenty20 is tailor-made for, it came as a surprise when Virat Kohli was left to bowl the 19th over. The result was disaster for the Royal Challengers Bangalore as Albie Morkel smashed 28 runs, feeding happily on the loose deliveries.
That left Chennai Super Kings, who began this season on a shaky note, still needing 15 off the final over. And Vinay Kumar, the million dollar boy from Karnataka, dished out a high full toss which was almost helped over the boundary, handing another five runs off that no-ball. And 10 off five deliveries is par for the course, and so it turned out to be.
Skipper Daniel Vettori gave the ball to Kohli, perhaps worried that debutant Raju Bhatkal was a bigger bowling risk. And cramp had ruled out Chris Gayle's utility off-spinners. Albie Morkel went 4, 6, 4, 6, 2, 6. That effectively made sure the first 200-plus score of the IPL V would be reeled in.
It was refreshing to see the Chennai and India skipper show, after a long time, some decisiveness, promoting himself up the batting order. With Faf du Plessis going strong at the other end, Dhoni ran unbelievably hard and smacked the ball around the park. When the time came though, Dhoni's helicopter shot failed to take off; In the end, RCB's limited bowling options, Morkel's blitz, Vinay Kumar's pedestrian finale and Ravindra Jadeja's finish saw Chennai through.
Earlier in the field, though, in a manner that is becoming characteristic of him, Dhoni first lost control of the proceedings and then proceeded to stop caring. It was only when the scoreboard read 161 for one in 16 overs that the skipper, having tried out six bowlers, threw the ball to Jadeja, who was similarly under-utilised in the Delhi defeat despite his match-winning five-for against Deccan Chargers.
Almost immediately, the slow left-armer got Gayle; then, with the last ball of his two-over spell, started a comic collapse that saw Bangalore lose five wickets in six balls. The implosion came rather late and Dhoni must shoulder part of the blame. Apart from miscalculating his bowling options many times during the Gayle-Virat partnership, Dhoni looked as if he were going through the motions.