June 19, 2024
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In a must-win final league game, Royal Challengers Bangalore clinched the last IPL playoff berth with a 27-run victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings on Saturday. This triumph marked RCB’s sixth consecutive win, as they posted 218 for five after being invited to bat and then restricted CSK to 191 for seven. RCB’s victory also secured their ninth playoff appearance in 15 seasons.

Despite a valiant effort from Ravindra Jadeja (42 not out) and Mahendra Singh Dhoni (25), Chennai fell short in their chase. RCB’s Yash Dayal held his nerve in the final over to seal the win, despite earlier pressure from Rachin Ravindra’s 61. The Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals, and Sunrisers Hyderabad had already secured their playoff spots.

For many fans, the match was bittersweet, as it could potentially be the last time they saw Dhoni, affectionately known as ‘Thala,’ on the cricket field. RCB’s remarkable turnaround came after losing seven of their first eight games, winning their last five to give themselves a shot at the playoffs.

Needing to win by at least 18 runs, RCB delivered an impressive performance at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Both teams ended with 14 points, but RCB advanced due to a superior net run rate.

Chennai’s run-chase started poorly, losing skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad (0) and Daryl Mitchell (4) early. Ajinkya Rahane (33) and Rachin Ravindra (61) steadied the innings with a 64-run stand before Lockie Ferguson and Faf du Plessis made crucial breakthroughs.

Jadeja and Dhoni added a rapid 61 off 27 balls, bringing CSK close to the target. With 17 runs needed off the final over, Yash Dayal conceded a six to Dhoni but recovered to dismiss him and give away just one run in the remaining balls, ensuring RCB’s victory.

Earlier, RCB’s top order, led by skipper du Plessis, shone brightly. Du Plessis scored a 39-ball 54, supported by Virat Kohli (47 off 29), Rajat Patidar (41 off 23), and Cameron Green (38 not out off 17). After a brief rain delay, RCB’s openers resumed strongly, although CSK’s spinners initially kept the scoring in check.

Kohli and du Plessis laid a solid foundation, with Kohli playing aggressive shots before falling to Mitchell Santner. Du Plessis then accelerated, hitting Jadeja for 20 runs in one over to reach his fifty. Patidar and Green continued the onslaught, with cameos from Dinesh Karthik (14) and Glenn Maxwell (16) pushing the total to a formidable 218.

CSK’s bowlers struggled to contain the runs, with Ravindra Jadeja and Mitchell Santner being the most economical but ultimately unable to stop RCB’s momentum. Despite a late surge from Chennai, RCB’s disciplined bowling and fielding ensured their passage to the playoffs, leaving CSK’s fans to wonder about the future of their beloved captain Dhoni.

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