May 19, 2018
Kotla drowned in a sea of yellow
The frenzy was palpable at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The turnstiles were clogged with young and old, all sporting their snazzy yellow Chennai Super Kings jersies. With the home team, Delhi Daredevils, having been knocked out of the competition, Delhiites decided to rally behind Dhoni and his team instead. Super Kings, the table-toppers have been irrepressible this season, winning hearts with their performances.
Not surprisingly, every move made by Dhoni on the field was backed with a feverish zeal by the boisterous crowd. Every dot ball bowled by the CSK bowlers were cheered, while a Daredevil wicket was met with a vociferous uproar. Judging by the overwhelming support, it looked as if the CSK were playing on their home turf at the Chepauk.
The game too progressed along a very linear pattern. Dhoni won the toss and asked the Daredevils to take first strike. Their bowling, backed by their energetic fielding, was largely impressive. Consequently, run-scoring became difficult, and CSK did well to contain the belligerent Prithvi Shaw and captain Shreyas Iyer upfront. For a brief moment, Rishabh Pant looked poised to play the party-pooper, especially after he tore into Harbhajan Singh.
But Dhoni smartly rotated his bowlers around, and when he got Lungi Ngidi back in the middle overs, the South African responded with the key scalps of Iyer and Pant. At the end of the 15th over, when the Daredevils had barely passed the 100-run mark, their innings looked like meandering into oblivion.
However, some timely hits in the end by Harshal Patel and Vijay Shankar took them to a respectable 162/5. At the half-way mark, the Kotla crowd had turned predictably restless. They couldn’t wait much longer to see the man in jersey no. 7 come out and see his team home.
Chennai leave it too late
A hush silence had descended upon the Feroz Shah Kotla. Chennai Super Kings, needed 50 runs from 13 deliveries to overhaul Delhi Daredevils’ score of 162, when MS Dhoni mis-hit a low full toss from Trent Boult to hand Shreyas Iyer a straight forward catch. The Kotla had been waiting patiently for some Dhoni blitzkrieg. Unfortunately, they only got a few sparks from their talisman. For a better part, he was kept quiet by some resolute bowling by the Daredevils. As the asking rate galloped, Dhoni’s big hits, too, became elusive.
When his vigil ended, he had consumed 23 balls to score 17 runs. His exit ended Chennai’s chances for good, as they went down by 34 runs to hand the Daredevils a consolation win.
Delhi’s spinners spin a web
The thing about bowling googlies on a slightly deteriorating Feroz Shah Kotla track in the disconcerting bounce a leg-spinner gets because of the more revolutions on the ball. Amit Mishra, one of Delhi Daredevils’ most experienced bowlers, has tremendous control on this delivery.
But, for a better part in his underwhelming campaign this season, he has preferred to bowl a flattish trajectory. On Friday night, in an inconsequential game against the Chennai Super Kings, Mishra bowled the perfect googly to Sam Billings.
The Englishman was conned by the bounce, and top-edged it to the fine-leg fielder. Mishra’s scalp came at an opportune moment in the game, because Billings’ departure meant the Super Kings, in pursuit of 163, still required 69 runs from their final five overs. With captain MS Dhoni and a bevy of big-hitters to follow, it looked gettable. But Mishra, with help from his rookie leg-spinner, Sandeep Lamichhane, exerted control on the proceedings.
Lamichhane, after his impressive IPL debut against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, continued to prosper at the Kotla. Together, they picked up three wickets between them and conceded just 41 runs in their eight overs. Their incisive spells proved to be the decisive factor in the game.