IPL: Rohit ton too little as Dhoni, Pathirana star in CSK victory | Crickit
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IPL: Rohit ton too little as Dhoni, Pathirana star in CSK victory

Apr 15, 2024 12:35 AM IST

Dhoni smashed 20 off four balls in the final over to boost Chennai before Pathirana snared four wickets to restrict Mumbai Indians and seal a 20-run win.

Rohit Sharma had dominated two partnerships – with fellow opener Ishan Kishan (70 - 43b) and for the third wicket with Tilak Varma (60 - 38b). Going at 10 runs an over into the 14th, Mumbai Indians were looking on course to do more of the same and surpass another 200-plus target at their batting-friendly home ground.

Matheesha Pathirana claimed four wickets for 28 runs.(AFP)
Matheesha Pathirana claimed four wickets for 28 runs.(AFP)

That’s when the Malinga clone from Chennai Super Kings camp, Matheesha Pathirana, turned the game around by dismissing Varma (31 - 20b) with a slower ball. He had earlier accounted for Kishan (23 – 15b) and the dangerous Suryakumar Yadav (0). Soon, CSK pacers pulled together several economical overs, constantly taking the pace off the ball even as MI captain Hardik Pandya (2 - 6b) failed to turn the clock back.

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Things got so dire that MI’s asking rate shot up to 19-per-over in the last four overs. Tim David could deliver only a couple of lusty blows. It was all down to ex-captain Rohit who batted with authority throughout the innings, to try and make the impossible possible. Good chasing sides with specialist finishers find a way to score big overs these days.

But just as MI had their slog overs specialist in Jasprit Bumrah, CSK had theirs in Pathirana. The Sri Lankan had two overs in store. It limits the scope of pushing the boundary limits. CSK’s death overs specialist Pathirana (4-0-28-4) came good against MI’s death overs specialists. No one among Hardik, David and Romario Shepherd could make it their day.

Rohit 105* (63b, 11x4, 5x6) was left with too much to do as CSK, who were spurred by MS Dhoni’s final-over hammering to score 206/4, restricted MI to 186/6, winning by 20 runs at the Wankhede Stadium.

MI’s defensive gambit

A battle between two storied teams, the Wankhede crowd split down the middle and a cat-and-mouse game all the way marked IPL’s most anticipated face-off.

CSK struck the first tactical salvo even before the first ball was bowled. Pathirana had been virtually ruled out of the match by head coach Stephan Fleming in his pre-match press talk. He recovered from injury, played, and we know how well.

The home team took their own strategic call before the first ball that defence was going to be their way of offense on a true pitch with short square boundaries. After putting CSK in, Hardik conceded at the toss that they expected ‘lots of runs’. It showed in his tactics. MI had come fully prepared, marking out a strategy against the in-form Shivam Dube.

Recognising Dube’s dominance against spin, they bowled no spin to him. In hindsight, they could be questioned if their Plan A was the best plan. They went strictly with what data told them. A testament to Dube’s problem-solving ability and improved prowess against all sorts of bowling, he delivered another sparkling innings (66* - 38b, 10x4, 2x6). What MI did manage was to deny him enough strike.

With little spin on offer, off-spinner Mohammed Nabi came out with a wonderful escape act, bowling his three overs inside the first seven overs at an economy of 6.3. The Afghanistan veteran’s orthodox finger spin was tactfully utilised, in the first and 7th overs, when batting sides are usually not in overdrive mode. It was also sound strategy from MI, considering Nabi would bowl his overs out before spin-hitter Dube checked in.

When Dube entered the arena to replace Rachin Ravindra in the 8th over, MI pressed Bumrah into action for his second over and was played out without risk. MI’s game plan did chain CSK batters up until the first 9 overs, with the men in yellow were 65/2. That’s when Hardik introduced himself in the 10th over to go head-to-head with fellow India all-rounder Dube. In better bowling form, Hardik could have hit the deck hard. He went for mix-ups to which Dube had all the answers. CSK pocketed a 15-run over. With MI focused on blocking Dube, Ruturaj Gaikwad 69 (40b, 5x5, 5x6) took a toll at the other end. In the 14th over, Dube found his true hitting range taking Shepherd down for 22 runs.

It wasn’t just what Dube was delivering, it was also the fear of what he could deliver that showed in MI’s tactics. With Dube batting through the middle-overs, MI didn’t employ Shreyas Gopal’s leg-spin at all, despite his successful first over.

MI came out protecting Dube’s sixes, but it was Gaikwad who found the sweet spot of his blade, clearing the fence on five occasions. The finishing kick came from crowd favourite MS Dhoni, who returned yet another time, a last over hero by taking Hardik down for a hat-trick of sixes in possibly his last IPL outing at the Wankhede.

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