SK Flashback: When a pumped-up Dhoni jostled the CSK into semis
Yet another story of Dhoni finishing a match and taking his team home.
How many times can you recall MS Dhoni suggest anything close to 'emotions' on the field? Emotions that are hidden away in impenetrable caskets, especially while playing matches. In this particular game, while 'Captain Cool' did his usual task of finishing matches, he punches the side of his helmet after the win, rather than an indifferent walk back to the pavilion.
The backdrop of the match
CSK were in a must-win situation due to their previous loss against the same team. The match went into Super Over and the hosts set a mere target of 10 runs for KXIP, which they chased down in 4 balls.
KXIP weren't having a good season, however, with 4 wins in 13 matches, they were already licking the bottom of the table and a loss or win in this game would have meant the same for them.
Two-time semi-finalists, CSK were eyeing to make it a ritual and enter the third season's semi-finals as well. Dhoni's men and Sangakkara's men were battling at the picturesque Dharamshala, and in different outfits than the iconic one in Wankhede the next year.
The MARSHal of boundaries
Mahela Jayawardene and Shaun Marsh galvanised Punjab's start by scoring over 11 runs per over. However, the hosts were quick to take things under control. A perfectly timed stretch-and-jump catch from Sudeep Tyagi sent the Sri Lankan legend back to the pavilion. A man who performed such a feat dropped a simple catch off Marsh in the next over. That very mistake made this match worthy of a flashback.
Accompanied by Marsh, Sangakkara did some firing in the next few overs. A mistimed sweep before the end of the 11th over, led Ashwin's ball directly to the off stump. After the captain Yuvraj Singh got out almost immediately with the same attempt and succumbed to an LBW.
Marsh was at 39 and the total at 93/3 when Irfan Pathan walked in. Just when CSK believed that they had gained momentum, the duo began smashing the balls to the ropes. With a boundary or two in every over, Punjab had started choking CSK's semi-final dreams. At the end of 20 overs, Marsh was short of his century while Pathan couldn't also reach his half-century, but a partnership worth 99 runs between the two gave a lot to chase for the visitors.
Raina-Badrinath's foundation for Dhoni's tower
Co-incidentally, CSK's opener, Matthew Hayden, also got out at the 2.5 over mark. But unlike KXIP, they hadn't got off to a great start. While Raina walked in and instantly began playing his shots, Vijay followed Hayden back to the dugout.
Badrinath, whose T20 abilities were questioned, joined Raina in the middle. Raina had already set the stage for a big innings and Badrinath was an able partner in the middle. Together, they rained boundaries over the stadium, producing a partnership of 62 runs. Slowly, the match was slipping away from the clutches of KXIP.
Before the 10th over, Raina was out to Juan Theron's bowling and Dhoni walked in. Rotating strikes frequently, Dhoni and Badrinath were trying to reduce the number of dot balls. Despite their best efforts, the required run rate was still above 12. By the 17th over, even Badrinath was out, after scoring a half-century, and CSK needed 44 runs in 18 balls, the required run rate now peaking over 14.
Albie Morkel, the all-rounder-cum-hitter for CSK, scored 2 boundaries in the over he walked in, and Dhoni followed suit and discharged two fours in the penultimate over. Despite the quick singles, the visitors required 16 runs off the last one. Dhoni was on strike and his Indian teammate, Irfan Pathan was to bowl at him.
The very first ball, Dhoni sent it to a boundary. 12 runs needed. The next ball was top-edged and he sprinted, scoring a couple runs. 6 more needed. The next ball came in whistling, but missed the yorker length and Dhoni struck the biggest six Dharamshala had probably seen. Pathan pranced in for the next one, a length ball, and Dhoni converted it to the last ball of the match. Another humongous six off him and Chennai were into the semis.
Dhoni seemed pumped, like never before, after that six. He punched the side of his helmet, his aggression oozing out in the form of some screaming words. CSK had now made it to all the semi-finals of the IPL, a record 3 out of 3. The absence of bowlers who could produce yorkers was the missing factor for the Punjab team in that match and all the matches in that season.