IPL ’18: MSD blazes CSK to top spot

Bengaluru: Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni displayed his batting prowess yet again as he helped Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) by five wickets in a high-scoring thriller at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old smashed an unbeaten 70 runs off 34 balls as he and opener Ambati Rayudu, who scored 82 runs of 53 balls laid the foundation for Chennai’s win as they scaled a massive target of 206 with just two balls to spare.

Dhoni slammed seven sixes and a four, while Rayudu blazed eight sixes and three fours respectively.

Earlier, Chennai won the toss and put Bangalore to bat on a flat track.

RCB made a rapid start to their innings before skipper Virat Kohli (18) was the first one to be dismissed by Shardul Thakur (2 for 46).

The South African duo led by Quinton de Kock (53) and AB de Villiers (68) then led a massive assault, smashing a flurry of boundaries as they shared a quickfire 103-run partnership. RCB reached the 100-run mark in 11 overs.

De Villiers smashed eight sixes and two fours as he took on the CSK bowlers. de Kock too joined in the mayhem as he too contributed with four sixes and a four.

Just as a score of above 220 looked imminent, Dwayne Bravo (2 for 33) bowled a slower ball, which took de Kock by surprise and popped up a simple catch to the West Indian.

Imran Tahir then further dented RCB with a double-wicket maiden as he accounted for the dangerous de Villiers and Corey Anderson in successive deliveries to bring back CSK into the game.

Middle-order batsman Mandeep Singh (32) showed his batting might once again as he slammed a flurry of boundaries, even as wickets tumbled towards the end of the innings.

Washington Sundar (13*) then smashed a six and a four off the last over from Bravo to take RCB to the 200-run mark. They ultimately finished with 205 for 8 in their allotted overs, despite two maidens.

Chasing 206, Chennai always had the batting power in their side and had the upper hand.

Shane Watson, who hit a hundred in the last match against Rajasthan Royals (RR) went back to the pavilion after making just seven runs.

Rayudu and Suresh Raina (11) then shared a 42-run partnership as they helped the two-time champions to steady the innings.

Spinner Yuzvendra Chahal (2 for 26), Bangalore’s best bowler, then pegged back Chennai’s innings as he took two wickets to leave the two-time champions in a spot of bother at 74 for 4.

It was then Dhoni and Rayudu, came together and slammed a flurry of boundaries. During the 101-run partnership, it was literally raining boundaries at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium as the duo thrashed the hapless RCB bowlers, who were guilty of bowling either too full or too short.

Rayudu was ultimately run-out by Umesh Yadav in the 18th over as Chennai required 30 runs off the last two overs.

The 19th over, which yielded 14 runs, saw the Indian skipper hit a maximum before Mohammad Siraj (0 for 48) bowled three wides consecutively under pressure.

Needing 16 runs from the last over, Bravo slammed a four and a six each, before Dhoni finished the game with his trademark shot, when he blazed a maximum at the wide-long region to push back the two-time champions back to the top spot at the table.

Dhoni was adjudged Man of the Match for his splendid innings.

Chennai has now won five matches, with one loss to have 10 points in their kitty after six matches.

Meanwhile, RCB slumped to their fourth loss and are at the sixth position, with just four points in their account, and having won just two matches so far.

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will now lock horns with Delhi Daredevils (DD) at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium at the national capital on April 26.