The JSCA stadium at Ranchi played hosts to the 2nd qualifier game between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bangalore on Friday. Bangalore, who were coming from a thumping win over Rajasthan Royals in the eliminator were up against the Super Kings for the third time in this IPL. Opting to bowl first, Chennai restricted the Royal Challengers to a below-par 139/8 owing to a brilliant effort by their bowlers. In reply, they chased the target down with just 1 ball to spare and made their way to their sixth Indian Premier League final. Michael Hussey was the chief architect of this tricky chase as he scored a patient 56 off 46 balls. While Hussey departed towards the end of the innings, local lad MS Dhoni held his nerve to steer CSK home.
RCB top-order fail when it mattered the most, Gayle hangs on:
Chennai Super Kings skipper MS Dhoni had luck by his side as he won a crucial toss and elected to field. Ashish Nehra bowled a superb opening spell to dismiss Virat Kohli (12) and AB de Villiers (1) to reduce Bangalore to 25-2 in 5 overs. Off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin bowled well at the other end as he did not allow Chris Gayle to open up. The Bangalore innings crumbled further when Mandeep Singh (4) was dismissed by Ashwin in the 8th over. The scorecard now read 36/3 and the job of reviving the innings was left to Gayle and Dinesh Karthik.
Chris Gayle falls in attempt to shift gears, middle order pushes RCB to 139:
The Royal Challengers were finding it tough to rotate the strike and maintain the flow of runs on the slow Ranchi wicket. The 14th over finally saw Chris Gayle make up his mind and attack the CSK bowlers. He smashed Suresh Raina for two consecutive sixes but could not connect the third one as the ball flew off the top-edge and the bowler completed a superb catch to dismiss him for 41 of 43 balls. Handy contributions from Karthik (28) and Sarfaraz Khan (31) saw RCB manage 139/8 in 20 overs, a score that was about 10 runs short of the par total. Ashish Nehra was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with bowling figures of 4-0-28-3.
Aravind removes Smith early, Michael Hussey, du Plessis capitalize on missed chances:
As history beckons, low targets have always been difficult to chase. The RCB bowlers backed themselves well to prevent their opponents from getting off to a flyer. Mitchell Starc and Sreenath Aravind bowled tight lines to keep the batsmen in check. The latter was rewarded with the wicket of Smith (17) who sent one straight down the throat of Mitchell Starc at deep mid-wicket. Faf du Plessis was dropped by Chris Gayle at first slip in the very next ball and Harshal Patel at deep square-leg had another chance to dismiss Hussey in the ball that followed. The duo found their feet soon and set the scoreboard into motion with continuous strike rotation.
Chahal shocks CSK with two quick wickets, Hussey and Dhoni inch closer towards target:
As Michael Hussey and du Plessis grew comfortable with the pace bowlers, Virat Kohli decided to bring in Yuzvendra Chahal, the only spinner in the side. The leggie found some help from the pitch and struck in his 2nd over when du Plessis (22) missed a paddle-sweep and the ball crashed into the leg stump. Suresh Raina came in at no. 4 and was sent back on the second ball he faced, without opening his account. Michael Hussey and Dhoni however recovered from the twin-strikes and moved closer towards the target.
The turning point of the chase came in the 16th over when Michael Hussey pummeled Chahal for two sixes in a single over to bring up his fifty. He was dismissed by David Wiese in the next over but it seemed a bit too late for the Royal Challengers. Pawan Negi was sent out to bat and the youngster hit another crucial six off Harshal Patel in the 18th over to almost seal the match for his team. CSK received a blow in the same over as Dhoni nudged one to Dinesh Karthik. Despite the small target, the Bangalore bowlers dragged their opponents to the penultimate ball of the match before R Ashwin scored the winning run. It was all done and dusted for RCB who could not make it to the finals in spite of such a disciplined bowling effort. The RCB team lived and eventually died by the sword. The batting let them down and CSK got the better of them in a crunch game. Ashish Nehra was adjudged the man of the match for his 3 wickets while bowling upfront. Chennai now play Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens and these teams are meeting in a final encounter for the third time.