Chennai Super Kings lost by one run to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL 2019 thriller at the M Chinnaswamy stadium. MS Dhoni’s 84, his highest individual Twenty20 score went in vain. Royal Challengers Bangalore finally snapped their seven-game losing streak and registered a win over the three-time IPL champions for the first time since 2014. However, the statistics hide a bigger story. Heading into the last over, Chennai Super Kings needed 26 in the final over bowled by Umesh Yadav. Dhoni blasted 4,6,6,2,6 and the equation boiled down to two runs in one ball. Umesh, in the spur of the moment, bowled a slow off-cutter and Dhoni missed. He hared across for the bye, Shardul Thakur set off but Parthiv Patel scored a direct hit. Thakur was inches short of his crease and Royal Challengers Bangalore survived an almighty scare.
For the fans at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, it was a sense of deja-vu. Three years ago, Bangalore witnessed a similar thriller. At that time, it involved MS Dhoni. In that year, Dhoni gave an exhibition of his freakish wicketkeeping powers. In this match, Dhoni’s spirit entered Parthiv and the tables turned spectacularly.
In the 2016 World T20, the clash against Bangladesh was high-voltage. India needed a win to stay alive in the tournament. Chasing 147, Bangladesh needed 11 off the last over. Mushfiqur Rahim hit two fours off Hardik Pandya and Bangladesh needed two runs off three balls. Rahim and Mahmudullah both fell in consecutive balls to full tosses and India held the upper hand. With Bangladesh needing two runs off the last delivery, Shuvagata Hom was on strike. Pandya bowled a short ball outside off, Hom missed and Mustafizur ran to salvage a bye.
However, Dhoni sprinted like Usain Bolt and broke the stumps to catch Mustafizur inches short. Bangladesh was eliminated with that one-run loss and India survived to reach the semi-finals.
Parthiv becomes Dhoni in Chinnaswamy
Three years later, same venue, same format but different tournament, the Kaveri Derby clash witnessed a freakish act. Chennai Super Kings needed 26 runs in the last over. However, cricket fans still believed. Dhoni was at the crease. This was the same Dhoni who hit 23 runs in the final over, including two sixes off the final two balls off Axar Patel to give Rising Pune Supergiant a nerve-wracking win vs Kings XI Punjab.
At the M Chinnaswamy, Dhoni, who had done the double Javed Miandad, was at his best. Cool, calm and composed, Dhoni calculated how to go about it. Big target, Dhoni unleashed the advantages of taking the game deep. A four was hit off the first ball but the fans were roused by a six which hit the roof of the M Chinnaswamy stadium. Stick Cricket mode was now on. Another six, a two and another big six and Dhoni was on the cusp of achieving the impossible.
However, the wheels of Karma bit Dhoni. The tables turned spectacularly for Dhoni. Just like he had done against Bangladesh, Parthiv achieved a direct hit. Just like that match, it was a question of inches. In an odd way, Royal Challengers Bangalore should thank Ravichandran Ashwin. His mankading of Jos Buttler set the precedent that batsmen should not wander out of the crease. Before Umesh bowled the final ball, Thakur was well inside the crease. Only when the ball was released did Thakur begin running. Had it not been for the mankading, quiet possibly Thakur would have started early and made the crease. A super over would have decided the game. That would have been apt for the battle featuring MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
The Bangalore epic saw the tables turn on Dhoni and it once again cemented the time-tested phrase in the game which is, “Cricket is a great leveller.” Not even a freak like Dhoni can change that.