Welcome to another edition of the Throwback Thursday, where we look back at some of the best cliffhangers that we have seen in the history of the cricketing world. This week, we have another classic, one that is remembered dearly by CSK fans and by nearly all the RCB fans, who wept that day.
It’s April 13, 2013, and we are here at iconic MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai for one of the finest rivalries in the history of IPL - Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Chennai Super Kings. We have entered the last hour of the day, the entire stadium is jam-packed with 20,000 fans dressed and painted in Yellow, the equation is rather a very simple one - two runs are required off the last delivery. At one end, we have Virat Kohli’s trusted bowler on the night, RP Singh and at the other, MS Dhoni’s trusted finisher Ravindra Jadeja. Hold your horses, what actually got us here to this weird situation after intense 39 overs of play? Let’s find out!
After the lull year in 2012, when Chennai Super Kings’ hot-streak was gatecrashed by a charging Kolkata Knight Riders, the men in Yellow were slightly taken aback. At the start of 2013 season, they crashed horribly against their arch-nemesis Mumbai Indians by nine runs in the opener. Their batting unit looked in shambles, as they were still clearly recovering from what was a shock loss against Gautam Gambhir-led KKR side. On the road, they flabbergasted a Kings XI Punjab unit, by ten wickets which gave them all the required confidence going into the fixture against RCB, which was their third game of the season.
The stage was set, people were dressed in yellows and ready to go up on their legs to cheer their team while for RCB, they walked into this contest on a bad taste against their opponents. Last year, same place, same opponents, same team, RCB somehow managed to choke themselves as Daniel Vettori handed the ball to Virat Kohli and we know what followed!
This year was their chance to make a comeback, to force their fans back home to go in a mode of frenzy and leave the opposition fans dumbfounded. Electing to field first, CSK via Chris Morris got to a perfect start, dismissing Chris Gayle, with just six runs on board. Mayank Agarwal came, saw but couldn’t quite conquer, folding out for just 24 runs. The two fishes in the pond, AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli made the pond seemingly into an ocean, making it tough for the CSK bowlers. Sportsmanship took a toll, bowlers took a hit and the two RCB brothers had a ride.
Attack, counter-attack and in between run-hard was the pair’s motto, clear as daylight. Ravichandran Ashwin, Jadeja and Bravo it didn’t matter who was bowling, it was how many runs they could add. While Kohli got to 58, de Villiers scored a scintillating 64 coming back to his true form as the visitors got 165 runs on board. One team went back smiling and the other tense, could CSK keep up their legacy against RCB?
Fed by the energy of their batsmen and their high-finish to their first innings, the Bangalore bowling unit charged stomped their way into the strong batting unit. First Murali Vijay, then Mike Hussey and suddenly CSK found themselves reeling at 10/2. It wasn’t going to get any better for them, with Murali Karthik and Syed Mohammed to follow in the sticky conditions. Their middle order was in shambles when it was tested against Mumbai, could RCB make full use of it now? Suresh Raina and Subramaniam Badrinath got starts with the 30s but a mere start was not enough, as they needed 88 runs off 7.4 overs. It might look dearly easy right now in 2020 but MS Dhoni and Jadeja needed to pull off a miracle.
The ball was slowing miserably, the pitch behaving, as usual, a two-faced monster and the duo were terribly drained by all the fielding they did early on in the blistering heat. There was no escape, they were not just responsible for the franchise but also for the fans, who were waving the flag, partially as a way to escape the heat and partially to show their neverending support. The odd fours and sixes were coming but it could only reduce the equation to 54 off 24 balls, CSK have done it before and so have RCB, who conceded as many last year.
Ravi Rampaul’s introduction was met well by Dhoni, who smashed a six and a boundary to take the game deep like he always does. At the other end, Vinay Kumar bowled a brilliant over to put pressure back on CSK. Like a pendulum, the game swung but Dhoni remained the ‘key’ to this clock. In the span of a few minutes, all the yellow flags and jerseys came down disappointingly, Dhoni was out, undone by Rampaul. Bravo ignited the passion with a six and immediately perished.
The equation was down to 16 off six balls, Jadeja donned the finisher role while RP Singh assumed the responsibility. And, the first ball travels to the boundary via an edge. Luck surely seems to favour CSK at the moment. A huge heave and gone, that has travelled a long way for a six. Six off four balls, it could be anyone’s game. Singh ensures just four runs off his next three deliveries. 2 runs from one ball, a do-or-die for either side and the stakes’ were too damn high, one could walk away as a hero and the other would have to work his whole life to get out of the ‘villain’ tag.
Welcome to a moment in history