Super Kings clinch last-ball thriller against Royal Challengers

Chennai, April 12: Defending champions Chennai Super Kings clinched a thriller to beat Royal Challengers Bangalore by five wickets in a last-ball finish in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here Thursday.

Super Kings chased down a mammoth target of 206, with five wickets in hand, in what was the second highest chase in the history of the IPL. South African all-rounder Faf du Plesis was the top scorer with 71 while skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a valuable 24-ball 41.

The win was Super Kings’ second in four matches and it took them to the fifth spot, while Royal Challengers, sho suffered their second loss in three matches, are seventh with two points.

Opting to bat first, Royal Challengers piled up a huge total of 205 for eight in 20 overs after Chris Gayle struck a brilliant 35-ball 68 and was superbly assisted by Virat Kohli (57). Young opening batsman Myank Aggarwal also came up with a quickfire 45 off 26 balls.

It looked like a target that was impossible to chase, but the Super Kings batting fired to achieve it in a nail biting finish. While Du Plesis and Dhoni did the bulk of the scoring, Suresh Raina (23), Dwayne Bravo (25 not out) and Albie Morkel (28) came up with valuable contributions.

However, it was Morkel who changed the complexion of the game during his seven-ball stay. When Morkel, walked in the penultimate over, Super Kings needed 43 runs from 12 balls.

Royal Challengers captain Daniel Vettori surprisingly asked part-time medium pacer Virat Kohli to bowl the 19th over. The decision back-fired miserably as Morkel smacked Kohli for three sixes and two fours as 28 runs came off the over.

Morkel’s blitzkrieg left Super Kings to get 15 runs from the last six balls. An erratic Vinay Kumar was punished by Bravo as Super Kings romped home with the West Indian hitting a four off the last ball.

Muttiah Muralitharan was the pick of the Royal Challengers bowlers giving away just 21 runs for his four wickets from his stipulated four overs.

Earlier, Royal Challengers must thank their top three batsmen to get a huge total, as barring them none could even get to double figures.

Opting to bat first, Royal Challengers were off to a great start with the 53-run stand between Aggarwal and Gayle. Super Kings started the proceedings with off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, but Aggarwal was merciless on the local boy hitting him for three sixes and two fours in his frist three overs. Aggarwal hit five fours and three sixes in his 26-ball knock.

Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was forced to replace Ashwin, who went for 46 runs from four overs, with fast bowler Albie Morkel. The change worked as Albie struck with the second ball to remove Aggarwal, who in his attempt to pull a short-pitched delivery top-edged it to Dwayne Bravo at mid-on.

Gayle and Kohli then joined forces for their 109-run stand in 66 balls for the second wicket that took Royals Challengers to commanding position.

Gayle, who remained a spectator when Aggarwal was batting, turned on the heat in the ninth over hitting Raina for three sixes as 21 runs came off from the off-spinner’s first over. Gayle struck six sixes and two fours in his 35-ball knock.

The visitors lost five wickets in last seven balls. Australian fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who finished with three for 24, got three wickets and effected a run out in the last over but Vinay Kumar hit a six off the last ball to take Royal Challengers past the 200-run mark.

IANS