The openers helped Chennai Super Kings to an imposing 205 for five
Murali Vijay saved his best for the last. The aggressive opener put his foot on the accelerator and the Chennai Super Kings innings roared in the final of the Indian Premier League Season-IV here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday. For most part, the Royal Challengers Bangalore fielders were chasing leather as CSK finished at an imposing 205 for five.
Vijay's astonishing 52-ball 95 (4x4, 6x6) was fuel-driven by strokes of power and precision. The right-hander, assisted ably by the left-handed Michael Hussey, dismantled the attack clinically.
The rollicking 159-run opening stand between Vijay and Hussey (63) consumed only 14.5 overs. The association also put CSK in a strong position. The right-left combination disrupted the line of the RCB bowlers. Both batsmen used the crease, converted the length.
Dhoni, predictably, elected to bat. CSK has dominated several games at Chepauk by putting runs on the board and then exploiting a track that offered greater purchase to the spinners in the later stages. For the host, it was a good toss to win since the surface assisted batting in the first half of the contest.
The expectations were high as CSK openers Hussey and Vijay walked into the middle. The stadium was a sea of yellow flags.
Vijay and Hussey began in a manner that was positive. Vijay thwacked a short-pitched delivery from left-arm paceman S. Aravind for a six over mid-wicket. The crowd roared. Then, Hussey pulled Zaheer for the maximum when Zaheer Khan erred in length. CSK had found early momentum.
Hussey and Vijay also ran hard between the wickets, putting RCB fielders under stress. Resultantly, the fielding side conceded costly overthrows. With the pacemen leaking runs, skipper Daniel Vettori turned to Chris Gayle's off-spin. The West Indian's quicker delivery – he disguises this ball well – demanded attention.
Yet, when provided with a hint of flight, Vijay dismissed Gayle over the long-on fence; it was an emphatic blow. Vijay, who gets his front leg out of the way in a jiffy, is well balanced as he strikes mighty blows on the leg-side.
Importantly, he was able to get under the ball and propel the sphere to distant parts with terrific bat-speed. Vijay has enormous strength in his wrists. At the other end, Hussey, between nudges and pushes, gave the ball a thump. He is the kind of batsman who allows the bowler to settle into a length and then picks his spot in the arena. Left-arm spinner Syed Mohammad was dumped over mid-wicket. CSK was 56 without loss in the first six overs when the field restriction was in place.
The feature of Hussey's batsmanship is the quickness with which he gets into a position. When paceman Abhimanyu Mithun bounced, Hussey responded with a typical pull. Vijay continued to inflict damage at the other end. The marauding right-hander danced down the track and timed Vettori over the long-on boundary.
The right-hander had a slice of luck on 40 though when Luke Pomersbach could not cling on to a tough chance on the mid-wicket fence. Mithun was the bowler to suffer.
Soon, Vijay eased into a majestic cover-drive off Mithun to showcase another aspect of his batsmanship. The bowler had hands on his hip. Hussey maintained the tempo, stroking Syed Mohammad past the ropes beyond cover. However, the left-arm spinner failed to cling on to what would have been a spectacular return catch off Vijay.
The opener made RCB pay for the lapses. When Aravind provided him length, Vijay blasted him over mid-wicket for the maximum. And when the left-arm paceman pitched short, he was ruthlessly swung beyond the ropes.
Vijay displayed delicate touch as well, guiding Zaheer to the point fence. Moments later, an inside-out drive off Vettori oozed class. The local lad was rocking. Syed Mohammad was taken to the cleaners by both Vijay and Hussey.
However, the left-arm spinner ended Hussey's innings; the left-hander was held at long-on. Skipper Dhoni produced a few rousing hits and RCB had a formidable barrier to surmount.
Chennai Super Kings:M. Hussey c Mithun b Mohammad 63(45b, 3x4, 3x6), M. Vijay c Vettori b Aravind 95(52b, 4x4, 6x6), M.S. Dhoni c Kohli b Aravind 22(13b, 2x6), S. Raina b Gayle 8(5b, 1x6), A. Morkel c Kohli b Gayle 2(4b), S. Badrinath (not out) 0(0b), D. Bravo (not out) 6(1b, 1x6); Extras (lb-7, w-2): 9; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 205.
Fall of wickets:1-159, 2-188, 3-188, 4-199, 5-199.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling:Zaheer 4-0-30-0, Aravind 3-0-39-2, Gayle 4-0-34-2, Mohammad 3-0-39-1, Vettori 4-0-34-0, Mithun 2-0-22-0.