More often than not, the side that bounces back in the closing overs leading to the innings break wins in a T20 contest. And who knows the importance of seizing that timely, psychological edge better than M.S. Dhoni and his gallant men.
Effectively, Tuesday’s battle was won and lost when Chennai Super Kings stuck four times — thrice by Dwayne Bravo — between the 16th and 18th overs. This led to Delhi Capitals tumbling from a healthy 120 for two after 15.2 overs to a grossly inadequate 147 for six in 20!
The host was right in believing the target was around 15-20 runs short of what it sought to set. Having won half the battle, Chennai went on to put the finishing touches with six wickets and two deliveries to spare.
With it, CSK gave its huge fan-presence at the Kotla just what it had come for.
The early fall of Ambati Rayudu did not hurt Chennai as Shane Watson and Suresh Raina counter-attacked in style.
The first 50 came in the fifth over — with the PowerPlay producing 58 runs — as the two found the ropes almost at will.
By the time leg-spinner Amit Mishra managed to get rid of Watson and Raina by the 11th over, the match was already over as a contest.
Thereafter, Kedar Jadhav, out in the last over, and Dhoni chose a lower gear to cover the distance.
Setting it up: Watson sends one soaring over the ropes during his 26-ball 44.
At the start, Chennai’s decision to opt for an unchanged combination appeared strange. After all, the pitch here at the Kotla was quite different to the spin-friendly surface in the team’s campaign opener in Chennai.
Not surprisingly, Harbhajan Singh and Imran Tahir went for 50 runs for a lone wicket in their six overs, while Ravindra Jadeja saved the day for the spinners after Delhi opted to bat.
But for Bravo’s timely strikes, to go with Deepak Chahar’s economical offering, Chennai would have been chasing a far more challenging target.
The West Indian all-rounder struck thrice in two overs, sending back the two dangerous local left-handers — Rishabh Pant and Shikhar Dhawan — to pull back things.
The actors in Delhi’s star-cast played the roles one has come to expect.
Prithvi Shaw’s boundary-count stopped at five off 16 deliveries, after he smashed three in-a-row to end Shardul Thakur’s first over.
Dhawan stuck to the job of holding one end up as long as he could and sent the ball across the ropes seven times during his otherwise sedate 47-ball 51.
Shreyas Iyer could not get going and Pant perished before he could get into the top gear. With Colin Ingram and Keemo Paul falling cheaply, Chennai denied Delhi flourish at the finish.