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IPL 2018: Aided by Ambati Rayudu, MS Dhoni rolls back the years for CSK

MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu combined to pull off a sensational win over Chennai Super Kings in their IPL 2018 clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday

cricket Updated: Apr 26, 2018 19:17 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
IPL 2018,Indian Premier League,MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni scored 70 off 34 balls to guide Chennai Super Kings to a five-wicket win over Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2018 match on Wednesday.(AFP)

“Dhoni finishes off in style! A magnificent strike into the crowd…”

It’s been a little over seven years since that iconic line from Ravi Shastri defined India reaching their promised land by lifting the 2011 ICC World Cup. A lot has changed since then but against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday, MS Dhoni (70 off 34 balls) reiterated with the bat that the finisher in him is probably as young as he was on that night at the Wankhede Stadium. (RCB v CSK HIGHLIGHTS | SCORECARD)

Rayudu masterclass

When Dhoni came out to bat, his side was reeling at 74/4 at the end of nine overs. At the other end, a settled Ambati Rayudu (82 off 53 balls) was delivering what exactly was required of him. He had given his side a fiery start, but with Shane Watson (7), Suresh Raina (11), Sam Billings (9) and Ravindra Jadeja (3) falling on the cheap, switched back to an anchoring role as he kept rotating strike with Dhoni at the other end.

He had raced on to 31 off 18 balls, but took 22 deliveries to reach his half-century mark. He did it in some style though, launching Pawan Negi into the cow corner for a gigantic six before restarting the carnage. Having scored 79 in the last game against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rayudu was anyway the in-form batsman for the visitors.

But the manner in which he paced his innings, is perhaps what stood out on Wednesday. It’s never easy to put a leash after one’s off to a good start but he did the understandable thing of promoting Dhoni to take on the opposition as he held fort. That he Is currently the highest run-getter in the tournament also speaks volumes of his contribution to the Chennai side this season.

READ | Virat Kohli fined for RCB’s slow over rate against CSK in IPL 2018

Vintage Dhoni

With 21 required of the last seven balls, Mohammad Siraj sent down three consecutive wides. The first one was way too short and went flying over Dhoni, the second went wide past the off stump and the third was a combination of the two. Batting at 62 then off 32 deliveries, there was a sense of fear that Dhoni had instilled in Siraj — bowling anywhere where Dhoni could connect with the bat was out of the equation. After all, his last legal delivery, a low full toss, was sliced by the former Indian skipper for a six over third-man.

Dhoni had simply rolled back his years. Unlike last year with Rising Pune Supergiant, where he would often eat up a lot of deliveries before starting to free his arms, this season Dhoni has approached the game in the true essence of T20 cricket — hit whatever is in the zone with minimal time to settle down.

On Wednesday too, Dhoni followed the same mantra. He got off his mark with a towering six against Pawan Negi in the 10th over before picking up those singles and twos to keep the scoreboard ticking. In between, however, there would be those gigantic shots that would fly up to the media box and create a loud thud on the glass. No way could one not pay attention to the brute power with which the shots were unleashed.

He even reached his half-century with a six over the bowler’s head and despite Rayudu falling at the other end, the damage was already done. Thirty runs were required off the last two overs, but the hosts were the ones who were the tensed ones out in the middle. Dwayne Bravo then did what he does best; scoring a quickfire knock of 14 off seven deliveries before Dhoni heaved one into the crowd to finish things off in style.

First Published: Apr 26, 2018 12:17 IST