One wonders if MS Dhoni is a movie buff. If he is then jail breaks like Shawshank Redemption, Escape To Victory and the Great Escape must be the DVDs that grace his home theatre system.
His side, Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the defending IPL champions, got out of jail in the first playoff against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) to win by six wickets and two balls to spare to enter the final to be played in Chennai on Saturday. The second playoff between RCB and the winner of Wednesday’s eliminator between KKR and MI will throw up the second finalist.
Chasing 176, they seemed down and out, but Suresh Raina 73 not out (50 balls, 4×4, 6×6), the ultimate warrior and limited-overs finisher, played a great T20 knock and Albie Morkel 28 runs (10 balls, 1×4, 3×6) showed why he is so highly rated by his franchise to finish things off.
It all seemed very uphill for CSK after Zaheer Khan had got Mike Hussey out for a duck and S Aravind dismissed Murali Vijay cheaply.
Zaheer bowled a miserly first spell (3-0-11-1), but sadly, like the World Cup final, it was his second spell that turned out to be the spoiler as Raina carted him for two sixes off the 17th over and Dhoni struck another maximum to start the turnaround.
The southpaw then trained his guns on S Aravind as he belted the left-armer for three more sixes in the 19th over that went for 21. Earlier, Abhimanyu Mithun too went for 23 runs in one over.
With 12 needed off the last over from Vettori, Morkel hit a four, two and six off the RCB skipper to break Bangalore’s hearts in a match worthy of a final.
Earlier, Virat Kohli negated the early loss of two of RCB’s big-ticket overseas players – Chris Gayle and AB De Villiers – to take RCB to 176. The talented youngster showed why he was being touted him to be the next great Indian batsman as he struck a sublime and unbeaten 70 (44 balls, 5×4, 3×6).
The first playoff was billed as a clash between Super Kings vs Super Gayle. RCB have piggy-backed a ride into the playoffs on the big-hitting West Indian’s solo effort. So prolific has the Jamaican been for the boys in red that there were murmurs about the team being a one-man army. ‘Get Gayle, get RCB’ seemed to be mantra. But though they might be guilty of overlooking the others, in the end Raina’s blitzkrieg, which bettered Kohli’s, took them home.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Daniel Vettori (Capt.), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Mohammad Kaif, Saurabh Tiwary, Luke Pomersbach, Sreenath Aravind, Abhimanyu Mithun, Zaheer Khan.
Chennai Super Kings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Capt.), Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel, Subramaniam Badrinath, Dwayne Bravo, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravichandran Ashwin, Doug Bollinger, Shadab Jakati.