Image credit: AFP
What a thrilling day of IPL 2019 it was on Sunday, April 20. Not so much for the first of the double-headers – Sunrisers Hyderabad cruised to a nine-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders – but for the second clash between Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings.
It was a clash between Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni, if you will, and somehow, in a frantic finish of what-the-hell-just-happened proportions, Kohli came out on top, despite a Dhoni masterclass. RCB, having won one of their first seven games, have now won three of their last four.
Dhoni. There were many contenders for this honour: Dale Steyn for his remarkable effect on RCB’s attack and Parthiv Patel for his, well, Dhoni-esque presence of mind. But we go with Dhoni himself.
With three overs to go in the chase, CSK needed 49. Dhoni got that down to a marginally-better 26 off the final over – having refused singles despite having Dwayne Bravo at the other end. Umesh Yadav then got the hammering of his life – 4, 6, 6, 2, 6 – and by this point, with two runs required off the last delivery, the result seemed inevitable. Dhoni was going to finish it all off, as he has done countless times. Somehow, he didn’t. He was beaten by an Umesh slower ball, and Shardul Thakur was run out. RCB won by a run.
All the talk afterwards was about Dhoni. The 48-ball 84* was his career-best IPL score – at 37 years young – had it not been for him, CSK wouldn’t have gotten this far. It was a masterclass in pacing an innings, and Kohli, for all those nerves, will be delighted as India captain.
Kolkata Knight Riders. This is getting ridiculous. When you have Andre Russell batting in the form of his life, you play him where he wants to play. Russell intimated something to that extent after his big-hitting feat against Bangalore – it isn’t easy to come out and just hit, he said. Yet, Dinesh Karthik, the captain, and the KKR management, for some reason, keep Russell down the order.
On Sunday, even Russell succumbed, against SRH, scoring a nine-ball 15. KKR eventually lost by nine wickets. They had a chance to send Russell up when Karthik – who has just one half-century in 10 matches – fell in the ninth over. Yet, they sent in Rinku Singh, who took 25 balls for his 30.
Russell eventually had to do the heavy-lifting with the tail – and he failed. He’s done it in the past, but KKR can’t keep relying only on him. Karthik later blamed the bowling for failing to defend 160 – perhaps that could have been a lot more had Russell batted in better situations.
What they said
Delighted to have Steyn back in the team – Virat Kohli
— IndianPremierLeague (@IPL) April 22, 2019
“I was lucky enough to watch him in the beginning. The man that stands in front of me now is the Indian captain. It’s amazing, it’s an honour”
– Dale Steyn, a bit nostalgic, and typically classy, when looking back at a 10-year-challenge picture with Virat Kohli.
What they didn’t say
— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 21, 2019
“Why don’t we have what Steyn and Kohli have?”
– Karthik and Russell, after the Kolkata captain denied that the West Indian has complained about his batting position.
Rajasthan Royals vs Delhi Capitals. We’re 40 matches into the season, but this will be the first time these teams are meeting this season. It’s hard to call, but however it pans out, it won’t match what happened in Bangalore on Sunday.