IPL 2020 opener: Ambati Rayudu rocks
Ambati's 48-ball 71 and Faf du Plessis's unbeaten 54 help MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings thump defending champs Mumbai Indians in opener
Ambati Rayudu's sterling 48-ball 71 and Faf du Plessis's unbeaten 58 helped Chennai Super Kings clinch an exciting five-wicket win over defending champions Mumbai Indians in Abu Dhabi to kickstart IPL-13 on Saturday.
The duo put on 115 runs for the third wicket to not just bail out the three-time champions, but also open their IPL-13 account with a massive win as they chased down MI's 162-9 with four balls to spare.
Rayudu, who quit cricket in a flash after being ignored for the 2019 World Cup only to rethink his decision, looked in ominous touch. He stepped out confidently to the likes of Jasprit Bumrah as he batted with supreme control. He brought up his half century with a slap shot to the boundary off Bumrah. The six over extra cover off leggie Rahul Chahar was a treat to watch.
Mahi, the man
Meanwhile, Dhoni remains the much vaunted man. 437. That could well be the answer to all future quiz contest questions on how many days Mahendra Singh Dhoni spent between his two on-field appearances.
The last time Dhoni featured in a contest was during the 2019 World Cup semi-final and since then, we heard near-nothing from him all this time.
Obviously, in between his much talked about send-off via a Mukesh song from the 1976 film, Kabhi Kabhie, he did make waves via Instagram.
But we heard little or nothing from the much aloof former India captain. We have always been told that he likes to do things his way. Hence, he never shows up at press conferences and is only seen or heard at toss or post-match ceremonies.
Saturday hence was special because in front of an empty stadium when he lined up with his rival captain Rohit Sharma of Mumbai Indians, we finally saw him all bulked up for the tournament. He spoke for the first time officially since the final of IPL 2019. The noise was sometimes jarring, but it added to the spectacle at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in a small way.
Dhoni did not go with his usual formula of spinners galore, instead respected the conditions by playing a fast bowler in Lungi Ngidi, who netted three wickets.
Deepak Chahar, making a return from injury and then COVID-19 was less eventful, but he still managed two wickets. With Dwayne Bravo unavailable, Dhoni was really hamstrung for choices. But he remained unflappable as usual.
In contrast, Mumbai Indians had the perfect build-up, almost a settled line-up, yet when it came to negotiating conditions they found the going tough. Barring, Quinton de Kock's 20-ball 33 and Saurabh Tiwary's 31-ball 42 (3x4, 1x6), there was not much to write home about in the Mumbai batting.
Tiwary's inclusion ahead of the much younger statemate Ishan Kishan was always going to be a matter of debate. Just like the decision to play Australian quick James Pattinson ahead of Mitchell McClenaghan.
Overall, Dhoni always seemed ahead of the game as he managed to utilise his minimum resources expertly. He was always a step ahead of the well-oiled machine that Mumbai Indians have become over the years. In the end Mumbai Indians finished a somewhat par 162 for nine in their 20 overs. But the kind of start they had, Mumbai would be cursing their luck big time.
It was all because Dhoni managed to out-think them with his bowling choices and kept the game moving at all times. It may have been 437 days but the old fox has lost little of his old tricks.
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