IPL 2024: Delight for RCB, heartbreak for CSK

Chasing 219 for victory, Chennai Super Kings, which needed 201 to ensure a play-offs spot, could only make 191/7.
Royal Challengers Bengaluru players celebrate the wicket of Chennai Super Kings batter Ajinkya Rahane during the Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Bengaluru (Photo | PTI)
Royal Challengers Bengaluru players celebrate the wicket of Chennai Super Kings batter Ajinkya Rahane during the Indian Premier League (IPL) match in Bengaluru (Photo | PTI)

BENGALURU: A month ago, Bengaluru had seemingly gone beyond the point of no return. After eight matches, they had won one and lost seven. Now, in the most incredible of circumstances, they have engineered a run to the knock-out stages for the ages.

In a do-or-die clash against Chennai, five-time champions Chennai, they won by 27 runs for their sixth win on the trot. In the process, they leapfrogged MS Dhoni & Co (was this his last match?) on NRR. In a couple of days, they will walk out in Ahmedabad, the scene of where the rejuvenation began against Gujarat when Will Jacks and Virat Kohli finished a 200+ run chase with more than three overs to go.

When the match began on Saturday, Kohli and Faf du Plessis, as they have done lots of times already in the second half of the campaign in 2024, started like a train (31/0 in three overs).

After all, they knew what was at stake — play-off spot for them — and what to expect — rain interruptions. Having lost the toss, they had no choice but to start in fourth gear. And that is exactly what they did. Kohli took on Tushar Deshpande — two sixes in the third over, one of which hit the roof — to set the momentum, but that is when rain had put the brakes. A much-needed relief for Chennai captain Ruturaj Gaikwad, who immediately brought on the spinners when play resumed. Maheesh Theekshana and Mitchell Santner operated from either end — something that probably should have happened even before the rain break — keeping the RCB openers quiet. And it worked. In the next three overs, they could manage only 12 runs.

Kohli decided to step up. He, first went hard against Ravindra Jadeja and then against Santner to keep the boundaries coming. It is a facet of Kohli we are seeing this season, attempting to take on the spinners at will. Much to the delight of the crowd, he even employed his newfound slog sweep to smash Jadeja into the stands. And once he fell to Santner, Du Plessis did his part by smashing Jadeja for 20 runs. It was almost as if they were applying the mathematics rule of two negatives (match-ups) making a positive. Santner, once again, came to the rescue, getting rid of Du Plessis but it only brought a better hitter of spin to the crease — Rajat Patidar.

Now until a couple of weeks ago, it seemed like the black magic spell that was cast on Patidar had followed him into the RCB dressing room. But it all wore off in Hyderabad. It is no coincidence that RCB started winning once he started taking apart spinners for fun in the middle-overs. Such was his spin-hitting that Gaikwad turned to pacers once he came in — a move that provided to be anticlimactic this time. Patidar hit Simarjeet Singh and then Theekshana came, followed by Thakur, who too was taken for 17 runs.

With Cameron Green for support, Patidar became the hero RCB needed. They added 71 runs from 28 balls as RCB looked well set for score closer to 220. That is when Patidar fell, trying to hit Thakur into the stands.

When things are going your way, you seldom put your foot wrong. RCB were in one such zone as they promoted Dinesh Karthik ahead of Glenn Maxwell, ensuring Gaikwad did not finish Jadeja’s quota of overs. Karthik hit a six and a four before passing the baton to Maxwell. The Australian started with a top edge for four and followed it with two more boundaries as RCB posted 218/5 in 20 overs. In the end, it proved to be good enough for the hosts.

Brief scores: Royal Challengers Bengaluru 218/5 in 20 ovs (Du Plessis 54, Kohli 47, Patidar 41) bt Chennai Super Kings 191/7 in 20 ovs (Rachin 61, Jadeja 42 n.o; Dayal 2/42).

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