Bengaluru, April 21: Dale Steyn produced a perfect outswinger, tempting Shane Watson for an expansive drive and the Chennai Super Kings opener fell for the bait. Marcus Stoinis held on to a sharp catch at first slip. Steyn followed that act of enticing with a delivery that was brutally direct – a 143.7 kmph yorker. Suresh Raina's bat came down that second late, enough for the ball to crash onto the timber.
Chennai were 6/2 after the first over. In effect, it was Steyn's fourth wicket in Power Plays spread over two matches he played in this IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore. Imagine, before the arrival of Steyn the Bangalore side had managed just three wickets in Power Plays over eight matches. The effort of the South African great gave Royal Challengers a much-needed momentum while defending a middling total like 161 for 7. Chennai struggled to recover from those early blows, finishing at 160 for 7 and RCB emerged a 1-run winner despite Dhoni's power hitting. It was RCB's third win and Chennai's third defeat.
The Royal Challengers total was built on a fifty by opener Parthiv Patel after captain Virat Kohli departed very early, edging an away swinger from Deepak Chahar to MS Dhoni behind the wicket. Thereafter the Royal Challengers innings revolved around Parthiv as none of the other batsmen were able to accelerate in time or failed to stay long enough to take the burden off the wicketkeeper batsman.
The Royal Challengers also made a questionable call of keeping in-form Moeen Ali far too long at the dug out while promoting Akshdeep Nath and Stoinis ahead of the England left-hander. By the time, Moeen came out to bat only 26 deliveries were left in the match. Moeen underlined the thoughtlessness of not promoting him with a 16-ball 26 that contained five fours. However, in that limited frame of mind Moeen ensured that Royal Challengers reach a total that gave something for their bowlers to have a crack at.
Indeed the RCB bowlers made that total look a tough one with steady bowling for a good part. Apart from Steyn, Umesh Yadav came up with an on-target first spell inside the Power Play segment. Umesh's 2-0-10-2 was as significant as his new ball partner's effort. For once, the paceman got his radar right and picked up the wickets of Kedar Jadhav and Faf du Plessis. The double strike from Steyn and Umesh meant Chennai lost four wickets in the Power Plays for a mere 28 runs.
Of course, Chennai still had Dhoni, Ambati Rayudu, Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo in the hut to make a fist of the chase. But the asking run-rate kept mounting after that terribly slow beginning, mandating some serial big-hitting from the Chennai batsman. Dhoni, who made a fine fifty, kept the hopes of Chennai fans alive till the final overs.
In fact, Dhoni even refused to take two singles with Bravo at the other end with 36 needed off 12 balls – a sign of immense belief in his ability to produce big hits at will and he did come up with a few of them too. But daring single man heist was not the theme of the night.