Chennai Super Kings 216 for 4 (Dube 95*, Uthappa 88) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 193 for 9 (Shahbaz 41, Karthik 34, Theekshana 4-33) by 23 runs
It was almost like 2007 all over again: vintage Uthappa walking at fast bowlers and flat-batting them over their head or into the leg side, and Dube invoking Yuvraj Singh with his languid free-flowing hits. Between them, they hit 17 sixes to go with 12 fours in the innings; while both posted their highest IPL scores, Dube came within a six of a hundred and Uthappa fell short by 12.
In response, some dropped catches and questionable choices of bowlers towards the end produced tense moments even after Royal Challengers had been 50 for 4 and 146 for 8. It was only when Dinesh Karthik got out for the first time in this IPL, with 46 required off 17, that Super Kings could finally breathe easy.
RCB stifle CSK at the start
Ruturaj Gaikwad’s poor IPL continued as he fell to the machine-like lengths of Hazlewood with the new ball. Moeen Ali was run out by sharp fielding from debutant Suyash Prabhudessai, making it 36 for 2 in the seventh over. With the early spin of Glenn Maxwell, Royal Challengers somehow managed to keep the quickest powerplay batter of this IPL, Uthappa, down to 23 off 22 in the first 10 overs.
All hell breaks loose
Royal Challengers delayed the introduction of Wanindu Hasaranga probably because of the presence of a left-hand batter, but in the 11th over, he was brought on. Dube immediately launched into him, hitting him for a six and a four. In the 12th over, he hit the left-arm spin of Shahbaz for another six. Not to be left behind, Uthappa sent Maxwell into the bigger leg-side boundary for three sixes in the 13th over.
The assault was well and truly on, and Royal Challengers, the worst bowling side at the death this tournament, didn’t have any answers in the absence of Harshal Patel, missing this match because of the death of his sister.
The hitting was so clean that Super Kings didn’t worry about hitting into the bigger boundary. Uthappa played a couple of cute ramps, but Dube just sat deep in the crease and smoothly punished errors in length. And there were errors aplenty. When Mohammed Siraj had Uthappa caught at the end of the 17th over, it turned out he had overstepped.
Akash Deep caught the worst of the punishment but no one was spared. Hazlewood’s back two went for 12 and 15, Siraj conceded 18 off his final over, and Hasaranga cost 13, 13 and 14. From starting at a run a ball, both players were set for hundreds, but Uthappa found deep midwicket trying to go from 88 to 94 in the 19th over. Dube began the final over on 80, got to 94 with the last ball to go, but managed to send a low full toss straight to long-off.
RCB’s poor start
Royal Challengers have been the second-slowest side in the powerplay this IPL, preferring to set themselves up for acceleration in the middle and death overs, but they didn’t have that luxury in the chase of 217. Super Kings played their match-ups perfectly, giving them a healthy dose of spin early on.
When Maheesh Theekshana began the third over at 11 for 0, somebody had to take a chance. du Plessis did, but Theekshana was good enough to cramp him up and produce a catch for long-on. Kohli tried to hit out against Mukesh Choudhary in the fourth over, but found long leg. Theekshana ended the powerplay by trapping Anuj Rawat lbw with a carrom ball.
Maxwell’s entry made way for Ravindra Jadeja to bowl, who duly proceeded to get Maxwell for the seventh time in 13 innings. Five of those dismissals have been bowled, the highest for any bowler against any batter in all T20 cricket.
Prabhudessai, Shahbaz delay the inevitable
Prabhudessai continued his impressive debut as he and and Shahbaz rebuilt the innings with a 60-run partnership in 5.3 overs. Prabhudessai started off with boundaries through midwicket and extra cover, but also showed off his reverse-sweep and the ramp. Shabaz was more industrious and had to work harder for his runs.
Theekshana almost seals the deal
Theekshana came back to take the wickets of both Prabhudessai and Shahbaz, and did enough to get a five-for, but Choudhary dropped a sitter from Karthik, his third miss of the night. In prime touch, Karthik proceeded to give Super Kings some nervous moments, especially when they chose to give the 17th over to Choudhary when they had enough left from Bravo and Chris Jordan. Karthik took 23 off that over, bringing the requirement down from 71 to 48.
Finally, in the 19th over, a catch stuck as Bravo made Karthik hit into the bigger leg-side boundary at the edge of which was captain Jadeja. He will be relieved his side is finally on the board, but Super Kings could have easily won by 50-60 more, which can have a big impact on the net run-rate.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo