It was one of those matches which you’ll remember for a long time.
Chennai Super Kings vs Sunrisers Hyderabad was billed the biggest fixture of the CLT20 since its opening game, and it lived up to the billing.
In some frenetic cricket on display, some really very weird things happened yesterday, made more strange by the collective appearance of them all.
The king of Ranchi
MS Dhoni has transcended the boundaries of superstardom in Ranchi, his hometown. Though he said at the toss that it feels like home advantage wherever he plays in India, in the past couple of innings, the murderous intent which Dhoni has displayed straightaway after coming to the crease, is something new.
And yesterday’s innings was a testimonial to the same. The only surprising thing about how Dhoni went about demolishing Perera and Sammy in the last few overs, was that earlier, such hits from Dhoni usually came over a span a tad bit longer than this.
He hit 44 runs in the last 10 deliveries he faced. Had he got the chance to face 10 additional balls, to break Chris Gayle’s record of the fastest century ever, he needed only 37 more runs.
Quite typically, he murdered the ball over the sight screen and long-on three times, breaking the record of the longest six of this season with a 101m monstrous hit that landed in the upper tier of the stadium in an encore of the shot he played on 2nd April, 2011.
He also flicked a full toss over fine leg, worked one over third man and deep backward point with some astonishing power off his wrists, and carted two over the covers. Perera’s 18th over of the innings leaked 34 runs, becoming the most expensive over in the tournament’s history.
It was Dhoni’s show and it was breathtakingly good.
Drops, drops everywhere, not a catch to take
It was not just the case of buttery fingers, but it seemed as if the ball itself was coated with butter, after 5 catches were put down in the match, and only one of them didn’t qualify as a ‘sitter’.
For the Sunrisers, Karn Sharma dropped a mildly difficult chance and Hanuma Vihari put down Raina off a no-ball. Chennai’s errors were even more glaring; Jason Holder misjudged a mistimed flick from Shikhar Dhawan, Suresh Raina, of all people, fluffed a straightforward chance, and to sum it all up, Michael Hussey, after settling well underneath a skier, let it slip out of his hands.
Earlier in the 2nd innings, while praising Ravindra Jadeja’s fielding in the deep, Sanjay Manjrekar, on air, had talked about how good Chennai’s fielding was, mentioning the names of Suresh Raina, Michael Hussey and Murali Vijay, who he thought were “deceptively good”.
After Karn Sharma was dropped by both Raina and Hussey, it was in fact Murali Vijay who successfully completed the catching practice being provided out there by the left-hander.
The curse of the 18th over
Okay, when was the last time a ball was deemed dead because the batsman at the non-striker’s end was standing at the wrong end?
Things just took the turn for the weird yesterday as Karn Sharma’s catching practice session had a false start when umpires called the ball dead. Why? Because of all the reasons possible in cricket’s rule-books, Darren Sammy, at the non-striker’s end, was standing on the same side of the wicket from where Dwayne Bravo bowled.
Sammy could be forgiven for causing the confusion, the poor guy was barely able to stand after injuring himself, inside edging a brutal yorker by Jason Holder onto his foot.
Ashwin and Raina collided at mid-off and the former still managed to hold onto the ball, only to be left stunned by the call of ‘dead ball’ by Bruce Oxenford.
It was, coincidentally, the 18th over of the innings again which brought out madness on the field.
The forgotten moments of brilliance
It was contrasting cricket on display last night. The good bits were moments of genius, while the bad ones were simply baffling.
Thisara Perera, after he was hit for 34 runs in his over, caught a blinder of a catch at long-on, holding out his right hand in the air while jumping and finding the ball in his palm the next moment, bringing an end to Suresh Raina’s brilliant 84 off 57 balls.
The only problem is, few would remember there was an onslaught before Dhoni redefined the term and even fewer would remember Perera’s work of brilliance in the match, the more enduring memory being again that of Dhoni.