Chennai Super Kings 226 for 6 (Conway 83, Dube 52, Siraj 1-30) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 218 for 8 (Maxwell, 76, du Plessis 62, Deshpande 3-45, Pathirana 2-42) by eight runs
In February earlier this year Faf du Plessis was back in yellow, leading Jo’burg Super Kings to the inaugural SA20 semi-finals along with coach Stephen Fleming. Two months on in the IPL, du Plessis, in red and gold, launched an audacious assault with Glenn Maxwell as Royal Challengers Bangalore threatened to mow down 227 against Fleming and MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.
After Super Kings had posted 226 for 6 on the back of Devon Conway‘s 45-ball 83 and Shivam Dube‘s 27-ball 52, they struck early through their Impact Player Akash Singh to dismiss Virat Kohli for 6 in the first over. Mahipal Lomror then fell to Tushar Deshpande in the next over, but du Plessis and Maxwell then tore into Super Kings’ inexperienced seamers to power them to 75 for 2 in the powerplay.
Royal Challengers doubled that score by the 14th over, with du Plessis – stiff side and all – riding his luck to push them even further ahead. Du Plessis had been dropped on 0, by Dhoni behind the stumps, and then on 52 by Maheesh Theekshana off his own bowling. Super Kings dropped two more catches in a lax fielding effort, but late wickets and nifty variations from the Sri Lankan pair of Theekshana and Matheesha Pathirana saved the day for them.
Theekshana had got rid of Maxwell for 76 off 36 balls with a fizzing 104kph carrom ball in a boundary-less over. Pathirana, who had been taken for 26 off ten balls from Maxwell, had Shahbaz Ahmed holing out in an 18th over that cost just four runs to go with that wicket.
Royal Challengers’ Impact Player Suyash Prabhudessai then heaved Deshpande for six in the 19th over, but Pathirana successfully defended 18 off the final over with his slingy, on-pace yorkers and slower cutters. He had Prabhudessai caught at deep midwicket last ball with his bowling coach Dwayne Bravo applauding him from the dugout.
Conway, Rahane turn up the tempo
Mohammed Siraj excelled in the powerplay once again, giving up just six runs in his two overs while claiming the wicket of Ruturaj Gaikwad for 3. Conway and Ajinkya Rahane, too, had started slowly, but they turned up the tempo in the fifth over, bowled by rookie seamer Vyshak Vijaykumar. Conway manufactured a scooped four while Rahane hit the roof of the Chinnaswamy Stadium with a 91-metre six.
Rahane then cracked Wayne Parnell for 4,6,4 in the last over of the powerplay, taking Super Kings up to 53 for 1 in six overs. He tried to keep up the attacking intent against Wanindu Hasaranga, but the wristspinner bested him with a wrong’un.
Hasaranga bowled only two overs and didn’t return after dismissing Rahane because Super Kings had promoted their left-handed spin-hitter Dube to No.4 once again. Royal Challengers matched Dube up with Maxwell, but he got going by launching his own six into the roof of the ground.
Conway brought up back-to-back half-centuries and looked good for a maiden IPL hundred, but Harshal Patel eventually cleaned him up for 83 with a dipping yorker. With Royal Challengers not having an out-and-out fast bowler in their ranks, Dube continued to find or clear the boundary. He charged to a 25-ball fifty before Parnell had him holing out in the 17th over.
The drama at the death
Despite the loss of Ambati Rayudu in the next over, Super Kings seemed on track for a total of 230. Siraj, however, nailed his wide yorkers in the 19th over that cost ten runs.
Harshal started the final over, which was closed out by stand-in captain Maxwell; du Plessis was off the field during that time because of a side strain.
After Harshal bowled two beamers, he had to be taken out of the attack. Maxwell brought himself into the attack, ahead of Hasaranga, and conceded nine runs, including a wide, for the wicket of Ravindra Jadeja off the last four balls.
The du Plessis-Maxwell show
Royal Challengers were two down in two overs, but they still flew out of the blocks, thanks to du Plessis and Maxwell. They played to their strengths, with du Plessis taking down pace and Maxwell spin. Du Plessis was responsible for 45 of the 75 runs Royal Challengers had scored in the powerplay.
Maxwell then took centrestage, lining up both Jadeja and Theekshana. Maxwell didn’t spare Pathirana either after the powerplay, shanking him for a 94-metre six over square leg.
The pair took their team to 141 off 2 in 12 overs. Eighty-six from eight overs is a manageable ask at the Chinnaswamy, but Theekshana had Maxwell skying behind to set the scene for Super Kings’ comeback.
Pathirana steps up
Dinesh Karthik then played out the spinners and took the game deep with his 14-ball 28. By the time Karthik was out, Royal Challengers needed 35 off 18 balls. Pathirana would bowl two of those.
Super Kings had opted against rushing Pathirana back into action because he had just recovered from Covid-19. But with Sisanda Magala also joining their injury list, they threw Pathirana into the mix on an easy-paced Chinnaswamy track. After taking a pasting in the early exchanges, he showed excellent control with his variations, showing why Super Kings were interested in signing him up even before he had played the Lanka Premier League in Sri Lanka.
In an IPL game where a record-equalling 33 sixes were hit, Pathirana held his nerve to drag Super Kings back into the top half of the standings.