CHENNAI (TIP): You can be hero and villain on the same night. Ask Amit Mishra and Ashish Reddy. Reddy scored a whirlwind 36 off 16 balls to help Sunrisers Hyderabad get 59 off the last four overs and give them something to bowl at. Mishra kept them alive with the wickets of Michael Hussey, M Vijay and Suresh Raina. However, Mishra, promoted to No.5, wasted 21 balls for just 15 runs, and dropped MS Dhoni even before he had opened the account. Reddy was given the last over to bowl with 15 to defend, and a nowrampaging Dhoni to face. Reddy completely froze, and bowled the most predictable slower balls imaginable for Dhoni to win it easily.
Spared villainy was Dwayne Bravo who bowled length in the final overs to allow Reddy those runs, but more crucially batted like a rabbit in the headlights, manufacturing – as the IPL’s wont has been – a thriller out of nowhere. He played out a maiden from Karan Sharma – who registered this IPL’s most economical fourover figures of 0 for 8 – in the 16th over. Then he holed out on the bowling of Ishant Sharma for a near game-changing 7 off 16. The man who well and truly snatched heroism from villainy was Dhoni. He too began dozily, playing six dots before he topedged Dale Steyn to long leg where Mishra missed him. How Dhoni made Sunrisers pay for it. Firstly, after Bravo’s maiden left Super Kings needing 46 off last four, Dhoni hit two sensational and consecutive pulled sixes off Steyn, who at times bowled at close to 150 kph. One over midwicket, and the other dragged from wide outside off to clear long-on. This was brutal hitting against the best bowler in the world. Bravo, though, turned it around again, and Sunrisers went to Steyn to bowl the 19th over with 27 runs to play with. Dhoni played another calculated over. Steyn bowled with third man and fine leg up to defend areas down the ground. Dhoni dabbed the first past short fine leg for two, and square-drove the second over point for four. The third one he slogged over deep midwicket. This was the first time Steyn was hit for three sixes in an IPL innings, and only the second time in any Twenty20 game.Steyn came back, though, with Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket, and left Super Kings needing 15 to win off the last over. Darren Sammy, the IPL debutant, was the only man who had bowled earlier on the night and had an over to go. Cameron White, though, went to Reddy. Perhaps he was thinking if this was Reddy’s evening, it might be his night too. It wasn’t.
Reddy began with a back-of-the-hand slower ball that was almost off the pitch. He ran up again, and tried the same slower ball again. Dhoni missed, but it was not as though he had not picked it. Reddy had got lucky Dhoni didn’t connect. Reddy, though, tried it again, and Dhoni smacked it clean out of the ground. Eight off four now. Reddy was clearly nervous. He tried the normal yorker now, and missed his line by feet. Five wides. Hang on. Dhoni admits to having touched it. So three off four now becomes four off three.
Dhoni pulled the next slower ball to beat long-on and bring the win that put Super Kings level with Royal Challengers Bangalore at the top of the table. Watching all this, Shikhar Dhawan would be wondering whatever happened to what should have been a special Sunrisers debut for him. He came out from a month in the cold storage, braved a blow in the unmentionables, scored a fifty to give Sunrisers a total to bowl at, but ended as a footnote on a night Dhoni went from 0 off 6 to 67 off 37.