Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir and Ravindra Jadeja set up a 7-wicket win for defending champions Chennai Super Kings against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday. Harbhajan and Tahir picked three wickets apiece while Jadeja took two wickets as RCB were bowled out for 70, the joint sixth lowest total in IPL history.
In 2014, Royal Challengers Bangalore were bowled out for 70 against Rajasthan Royals in Abu Dhabi. RCB are now the only team to register two totals below 100 in the opening game of any IPL season. In 2008, chasing 223 in Bengaluru, RCB were bowled out for 82. 11 years later, they were blown away for 70.
On Saturday, MS Dhoni won the toss and decided Chennai Super Kings would bowl first. Virat Kohli walked out with Parthiv Patel to open the innings for RCB but fell to Harbhajan Singh in the 4th over of the innings and Harbhajan’s second over. He picked up Moeen Ali and AB de Villiers in his next two overs to finish with figures of 3 for 20 off 4 overs.
South Africa’s Imran Tahir also had a field day. He finished with figures of 3 for 9 off 4 overs – he dismissed Shivam Dube, Navdeep Saini and Yuzvendra Chahal. Ravindra Jadeja, the third specialist spinner in the team, snared Colin de Grandhomme and Umesh Yadav while Dwayne Bravo dismissed Parthiv Patel off his first delivery as RCB collapsed to 70 all out off 17.1 overs.
In a chat with the broadcasters during the CSK innings, AB de Villiers conceded the hosts had got their team selection spot on.
Yuzvendra Chahal dismissed CSK opener Shane Watson early before Suresh Raina joined Ambati Rayudu in the middle. There was turn on the pitch but RCB were playing only two spinners unlike CSK who had three top-class spinners besides the part-time off spin of Kedar Jadhav.
To the credit of the RCB bowlers, they fought hard in the first few overs and did not let Raina and Rayudu race away. Suresh Raina was watchful but he did beat Virat Kohli to become the first man to reach 5000 runs in the IPL when he got to 15. He was eventually dismissed for 19 by Moeen Ali but CSK were well on course for victory at that stage with only 31 needed off 63 balls.
Royal Challengers Bangalore were hoping to end their five-year victory drought against Chennai Super Kings but their batsmen disappointed. Kohli and AB de Villiers are two of the most prolific run-scoers in the IPL but they were outsmarted by Harbhajan Singh, who was wicketless in his last 7 matches.
The win for CSK stretched their winning streak to seven matches against RCB. RCB has not defeated CSK since 2014. The head-to-head record between these two teams favours CSK with Dhoni’s team winning 15 matches in 23 meetings.
Taunted with tags of Dad’s Army in 2018, Chennai Super Kings had shut their detractors up when they lifted the IPL trophy for the third time. This year again, CSK got off to a strong start as 38-year-old Harbhajan Singh and 39-year-old Imran Tahir showed why MS Dhoni believes age is only a number.