Ravindra Jadeja aspires to be MS Dhoni’s successor at Chennai Super Kings. On Sunday in Abu Dhabi against Kolkata Knight Riders, the Saurashtra man showed he is well on his way.
He did what Dhoni used to do for years – rising at the death – as CSK notched up a last-ball win to go back on top of the IPL table. With 26 to get off the last two, the ‘finisher’ smashed an 8-ball 22 that took CSK home. Jadeja was dismissed off the fifth ball of the last over, and with one to get off the last ball, Deepak Chahar did the needful with the bat.
While Jadeja was brilliant in the 19th over, he was presented a chance to be so by KKR captain Eoin Morgan. The Knights captain strangely asked young pacer Prasidh Krishna to bowl the 19th over instead of Narine on a pitch where the ball wasn’t coming on to the bat. Jadeja was ready to pounce on the gift and fed off the inexperience of the Karnataka paceman to take 22 in that over.
It left Narine with only four to defend in the last over and the wily West Indian still stretched the game to the last ball, dismissing Curran and Jadeja. One was left to wonder if Morgan had allowed the best bowler in the team to bowl the 19th over, what would have happened.
But that doesn’t take anything away from the brilliance of Jadeja. His ability to choose the right moment to launch the attack and not feel the pressure of the moment were the key in achieving the target.
And that’s not enough. It was the left-armer who had brought CSK back into the match with the ball as well in the middle-overs after KKR had started well. He stuck to his guns, bowled wicket to wicket and did not allow the KKR batsmen to open their arms. A dangerous looking Rahul Tripathi (45 off 33 balls) got frustrated and tried a reverse sweep against a faster one of Jadeja and lost his off-stump.
While Jadeja was the stand-out performer for CSK, the chase of 172 in a big ground was anchored by another brilliant opening partnership of 74 off 8.2 overs between Ruturaj Gaikwad (40 off 28 balls) and Faf du Plessis (43 off 33 balls). While Faf is a senior pro and has done this all his life for a living, the maturity shown by Ruturaj was exemplary. There was absolutely no slogging, it was good, clean batting and finding the gaps with surgical precision that helped CSK set up the platform.
At that point, one thought CSK might run away with the game but the spinners Varun and Narine brought KKR back. It might have been enough, had their skipper Morgan been a little more alive to the situation and not allowed Jadeja the window of opportunity at a crucial juncture.