MS Dhoni came into his own and took his beloved Chennai Super Kings into another IPL final. The game was fluctuating from one end to the other and when Dhoni walked into bat ahead of Ravindra Jadeja, CSK needed 24 off 11 balls. The Delhi Capitals attack has the wherewithal to restrict the opposition, but Dhoni, still struggling with his timing, turned the clock back. One six off Avesh Khan in the 19th over and two boundaries off Tom Curran in the 20th sealed a superb win for CSK and took them to their ninth final.
While it was the batter Dhoni who took centre-stage just when it mattered, it was the skipper Dhoni’s decision to stick with Robin Uthappa ahead of Suresh Raina that went a long way in sealing the victory. Even after two failures Uthappa was persisted with and the former India player came up with an absolute gem. Scoring 173 was a stiff target given the quality of Capitals attack and the fact that they had lost the in-form Faf du Plessis early could make things even more difficult for CSK. But Uthappa played an innings which would have made him happy even in his heyday.
The Capitals bowlers seemed to lack the homework on the right-hander and made the mistake of not testing him with the short ball often enough. The Karnataka player was always a good player when the ball is pitched in his zone and he did just that on Sunday, hitting over the infield in Powerplay and racing away to 63 off 44 balls.
And once he got out, it was over to another jewel in CSK crown Ruturaj Gaikwad (70 off 50 balls) who took them close. He mixed caution with aggression, anchored the innings, pulled out the big shot just when it mattered and the target was always within reach. His 110-run second-wicket partnership with Uthappa was the cornerstone of the CSK march as they won with two balls to spare.
Sunil Narine helps Kolkata reach Qualifier 2
A match-defining all-round show from Sunil Narine helped Kolkata Knight Riders set up a Qualifier 2 clash with Delhi Capitals after beating Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets in a tight Eliminator match of IPL 2021 at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Monday.
Narine first took 4/21 in four overs, breaking the back of RCB’s batting. With the bat, he slammed his first three balls for three sixes to kill the chase, which Kolkata completed with two balls to spare. Kolkata delivering Bangalore a knockout punch also brought an end to Virat Kohli’s stint as a captain in the IPL.
Chasing 139, Shubman Gill started off with a flick through square leg of Mohammed Siraj. In the next over, Venkatesh Iyer joined the party, pulling George Garton over backward square leg. Gill then tore into Garton in the third over with a hat-trick of boundaries. Harshal Patel, introduced in the final over of power-play, made the first strike for RCB as Gill was foxed by an off-cutter and holed to mid-on.
Sunil Narine’s promotion paid off as he slammed three sixes off Daniel Christian over fine leg, square leg and long-off in the 12th over to simplify the equation. Chahal had his second wicket of the match in the 15th over as Nitish Rana mistimed slogsweep to long-on. Narine had luck on his side as Devdutt Padikkal dropped the catch off Harshal Patel in the 17th over.
In the next over, Mohammed Siraj dismissed both Narine and Dinesh Karthik. With seven needed off the final over, Shakib Al Hasan walked across for a scoop over short fine leg off Christian before finishing off the chase with a quick single.