Chennai: Albie Morkel ransacked 28 runs off the first six balls he faced - the 19th over - to pull off an incredible heist for Chennai Super Kings, the second highest successful chase in the IPL. Pursuing 206, Super Kings needed 43 off 12 balls and Royal Challengers Bangalore would have thought the match safe, only for Morkel to shatter the notion by savaging Virat Kohli's over.
Morkel launched three sixes, two fours and ran a two, to leave Super Kings with 15 to get in the last over. Although he was caught on the boundary, and Super Kings needed 14 off four balls, Dwayne Bravo was on hand to finish it off, helped by a no-ball and a full toss from Vinay Kumar. It was a compelling finish to an innings that had its platform laid by aggression from Faf du Plessis and innovation from MS Dhoni, who promoted himself to No. 4, but until that rocket-fueled thrust from Morkel, Super Kings had been behind for 38 overs.
In hindsight Royal Challengers were left to rue a late collapse in their innings, when five wickets fell in six balls and they scored only 11 runs off the final ten deliveries. Chris Gayle and Virat Kohli had done enough to ensure they were the first side to make more than 200 in this IPL, but they were set for more than 205 at one stage.
While Royal Challengers swelled in the middle of their innings, scoring 21 off the ninth over, Super Kings waited for the end to lash out after a solid start. Du Plessis took control of the innings early on and scored risk-free boundaries off short balls. He dominated the first seven overs, while M Vijay batted in his shadow.
Vijay became the first of Muttiah Muralitharan's three scalps when he offered the Sri Lankan a return catch. Murali had to dive to his right and defy his age to complete it and he did. Murali broke the next two partnerships as well to prevent Super Kings from gaining too much ground. Suresh Raina and du Plessis both holed out as they fought a climbing asking rate.
With more than 15 an over required off the last five, Super Kings needed a sustained attack. It did not come. Dhoni perished in the cause, attempting the helicopter shot to be caught at long-off, which proved a blessing in disguise as it brought Morkel to the crease.
Kohli was given the responsibility of the 19th over because Vettori had exhausted the quotas of his experienced bowlers and Gayle was off the field with what seemed to be a groin niggle. Morkel got underway with an inside edge for four and then blasted the next delivery over long-on for six. An outside edge off the third ball flew towards third man for four and Morkel clobbered the fourth and sixth deliveries for six as well.
When Morkel was dismissed, the advantage was back with a shell-shocked Royal Challengers but Vinay Kumar let it slip again. He bowled a high no-ball that Bravo pulled for four and the next delivery was a full toss, which got slapped for six. Vinay Kumar followed up with two boundary-less balls leaving Super Kings with two to win off the last ball. Ravindra Jadeja swung hard at the final delivery and outside-edged to the third-man boundary, sparking off delirious celebrations in the Super Kings dugout. Royal Challengers explosive efforts with the bat were a distant memory.
During Royal Challengers' innings, Mayank Agarwal had performed a similar role to Du Plessis, attacking at the start. He initially eclipsed Gayle, peppering the off side with powerful shots, lofting the ball over mid-off and timing it sweetly through covers. Agarwal ushered Royal Challengers to the first half-century score inside five overs this season.
Unlike du Plessis, however, Agarwal did not build on his platform and top-edged a slower bouncer from Morkel to mid-on. He had done enough though for Gayle and Kohli to build a skyscraper on. Both scored half-centuries in contrasting styles. Gayle gathered runs with power while Kohli did it with placement and timing. Their partnership grew to the highest of this IPL but neither of them survived until the end of the innings, from where they may have been able to launch the kind of onslaught Morkel did, and break the game.