Chennai Super Kings’ tried-and-tested strategy of leaving it for late did not yield the desired results as they lost to Rajasthan Royals by three runs in the 17th match of the IPL 2023 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday night. This was CSK’s only second loss to RR at home in eight games.
Chasing a tricky 176 for victory, CSK finished proceedings at 172/6 with skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni staying unbeaten on a 17-ball 32. Dhoni, who was leading CSK for the 200th time in the IPL, hit three sixes and a boundary, while Ravindra Jadeja, the other unbeaten batter, scored a 15-ball 25.
Bowling the last over with 20 runs to defend, the vastly experienced medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, held his nerves to restrict the yellow brigade, despite Dhoni’s two excellent sixes in the over.
The Royals’ third win in four games took them to the top of the points table. They have six points, the same as the Lucknow Super Giants, but are ahead on the basis of the net run rate. CSK, on the other hand, lie in fifth place with two wins and an equal number of losses.
Former Australia pacer Brett Lee praised the 29-year-old Sharma on JioCinema, saying: “I like what he said in his post-match interview about how over the wicket wasn’t working, so he came around the wicket.
But you’re right. It’s right within his arc, that sweet spot, and if he missed it by an inch, it would have gone for six. Full credit to Sandeep Sharma, bowling with a wet ball to MS Dhoni who is on fire, they’ve got the whole crowd against them. He closed out the game under pressure and that is absolutely hats off to him to win by three runs.”
Former India cricketer RP Singh was impressed by Sharma’s final-over execution, especially after the poor start he got off to in it.
“It started with two wides and then a dot ball, and then we got to see two sixes as well. When the sixes were hit, the pressure was bound to catch up. At that time, you had to back yourself.
We have heard the same thing from Dhoni that he will capitalize on every mistake a bowler makes and punish him with a six. He always puts that pressure on the bowler, so imagine the mental state Sandeep Sharma was in.
He knew that this batter will hit sixes if I make even the smallest mistake. Executing it the way he did is something that should be recognized.”
Meanwhile, former India Test captain Anil Kumble was happy to see Dhoni perform well, saying: “I thought it was the perfect script for MS Dhoni there. In his 200th match as the captain of CSK.
He was there for the last ball with six needed. If it was two or three inches slightly shorter, I think he would’ve done it. It was the perfect script. It was wonderful to see someone like MS Dhoni do it even now.”