Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have become the most-capped player in any Twenty20 league in world cricket with 193 matches but despite his record breaking feat, he had to finish on the losing side on Friday.
On his memorable day, Dhoni, who broke Suresh Raina’s tally of 192 matches in the IPL, showed glimpses of his old magic with a courageous 47 not out to almost take Chennai Super Kings to a thrilling win.
However, despite trying hard, the veteran of many battles could not cross the finishing line as Sunrisers Hyderabad notched up a nail-biting seven-run victory in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Chasing a challenging target of 165, the last year’s runners-up looked down and out when they were tottering at 42 for 4 in the ninth over. Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja also struggled to get going initially as CSK reached 71 for 4 after 14 overs.
However, needing impossible-looking 94 from the last six overs, Dhoni and Jadeja (50: 35 balls, 5×4, 2×6) suddenly changed gears and displayed some remarkable shots to inch towards the win.
Eighteen-year-old Abdul Samad, who is playing only his second IPL match, was asked to bowl the last over because Bhuvneshwar Kumar got injured when CSK needed 28 runs. The teenage leggie survived the onslaught of Dhoni and Sam Curran (15 not out) to help his side register a second win in four matches.
Dhoni, who remained unbeaten on 47 (36 balls, 4×4, 1×6), might have lost the battle but the CSK leader won the hearts of his fans with his never-say-die attitude.
SRH speedster T Natarajan continued his good form with the ball to return with a couple of vital wickets, conceding 43 runs. The tall Tamil Nadu lad hit the deck hard around leg-stump and got the ball to seam away, opening up Ambati Rayudu who could only watch in dismay as the ball hit the top of his off-stump. Rayudu, who made a comeback after missing two matches, made only 8.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Abdul Samad chipped in with a wicket each. Rashid Khan did not take a wicket but conceded just 12 runs from his four-over dream spell.
Earlier, an explosive maiden half century by Priyam Garg helped Sunrisers Hyderabad to post a competitive total of 164 for 5.
The 19-year-old bailed Sunrisers Hyderabad out of trouble with a fighting 51 not out off 26 balls while smashing six boundaries and a six to set a respectable total against a formidable Chennai Super Kings.
The India Under-19 captain and latest recruit of SRH Garg redeemed himself with an impressive clean hitting to stamp his authority in style.
Garg, who was earlier involved in teammate Kane Williamson’s run-out just after the dismissal of skipper David Warner, played with confidence and gave indications that he is a player to be watched out for in the future.
The 2016 champions have proved that they have more depth in their batting than understood by many as Garg, who came in at No. 6, rescued his new side out of trouble with a gritty half-century to set a challenging total after Warner decided to bat after winning the toss.
Uttar Pradesh youngster Garg, who was bought by Sunrisers Hyderabad for a whopping Rs 1.9 crore last year in the auction, hammered 22 runs in the 17th over to set the tempo as they added 64 in the last five overs.
The total was boosted thanks to a brilliant partnership between Garg and Abhishek Sharma. The young southpaw cracked a sensible 31 off 24 balls before Mahendra Singh Dhoni caught him off Deepak Chahar. Garg and Abhishek Sharma added crucial 77 runs for the fifth wicket. Abdul Samad remained unbeaten on 8.
At one stage, Hyderabad were 69 for the loss of 4 wickets with all big names back to pavilion, including Warner. Garg was involved in Williamson’s run-out as the New Zealand skipper flicked the last ball of the 11th over to mid-wicket and took for a quick single, only to be left stranded mid-pitch by Garg, who failed to respond. But the promising teenager took the onus of scoring runs after Williamson’s departure, and in the company of Abhishek Sharma, bailed Hyderabad out of choppy waters.
It was a roller-coaster ride for SRH. The former champions saw a terrible top-order collapse. First Jonny Bairstow went for a duck and then Pandey, Warner and Williamson were back to the dressing room without contributing much.
Chahar scalped two wickets, while Piyush Chawla and Shardul Thakur took a wicket each.
With this win, SRH moved up to the fourth spot with four points from as many ties. CSK remained at the bottom with three consecutive defeats after the five-wicket win against Mumbai Indians in the inaugural encounter on September 19.
On Saturday, the first double-decker of the season will be played. Royal Challengers Bangalore will lock horns with Rajasthan Royals (Abu Dhabi, 3.30 pm), while Delhi Capitals will take on Kolkata Knight Riders (Sharjah, 7.30 pm).
Sunrisers Hyderabad 164 for 5 in 20 overs (Priyam Garg 51 not out, Abhishek Sharma 31, Manish Pandey 29, David Warner 28, Kane Williamson 9, Abdul Samad 8 not out; Deepak Chahar 2-31, Piyush Chawla 1-20, Shardul Thakur 1-32) beat Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 in 20 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 50, MS Dhoni 47 not out, Faf du Plessis 22, Sam Curran 15 not out, Ambati Rayudu 8; T Natarajan 2-43, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 1-20, Abdul Samad 1-41) by 7 runs.
Man-of-the-match: Priyam Garg (Sunrisers Hyderabad)