Chennai:There was a role-reversal at the Chidambaram Stadium. Chennai Super Kings and their so-called air-conditioned captain MS Dhoni panicked under self-inflicted pressure, while Bangalore Royal Challengers smelt blood and went in for the kill with great precision.
Rahul Dravid's men defended one of the smallest scores in the tournament --- 126-8 having chosen to bat --- and Chennai, who were cruising at 60-0 in 9 overs, finished at 112-8 to lose by 14 runs.
Nothing in the first three quarters of the game suggested that Bangalore had it in them to pull this off. Their batting was as it has been throughout --- lacklustre --- and lacked any sense of purpose as they staggered to the smallest score in the IPL by a team batting first and playing their full quota of overs. In fact, they had to bat till the 18th over before their run rate was better than a run-a-ball.
Chennai motored to the halfway mark, with Parthiv Patel and Stephen Fleming batting assuredly. It took the services of one of the much-derided Test match specialists of Bangalore --- Anil Kumble --- to force the first four wickets.
Chennai bring their own downfall
Kumble had Patel caught and bowled --- a difficult chance that was hit straight to him. Kumble juggled it a few times before cupping it.
Dhoni, having promoted himself to one-down, slogged one straight to Kumble's hands at long on. Then, Fleming swept Kumble to deep square leg's hands, and in the same over, S Badrinath walked across his stumps and was trapped leg before.
Chennai, at this stage, needed just 39 from 36 balls, but the senseless slogging continued. Albie Morkel, having taken 4-32 earlier in the evening, pulled straight to mid wicket and S Vidyut fell to a fine catch from Jacques Kallis, who went airborne to his right.
Manpreet Gony, having impressed with his outswingers earlier, mistimed a drive to mid off. Suresh Raina watched the mayhem unfold from the other end.
It all came down to an interesting last over to be bowled by Raina's statement Praveen Kumar, with Chennai needing 16. Raina denied Makhaya Ntini singles off the first two balls, and in the end, Praveen conceded just one run off the first five balls. Dravid, in a rare moment of happiness in the IPL, pumped the air to begin his premature celebration and Praveen bowled another dot ball --- a loopy, slower one bowled off a couple of steps --- and Ntini missed it.
Poor batting, but just about enough runs
Earlier, Bangalore had showed just why they have been the pits. Dravid's decision to bat first remained the team's only positive bit of play in the first half. They were clueless with the bat, not rotating the strike, not finding the boundaries. Their top order collapsed, leaving Dravid to play a lone hand with his 43.
Perhaps, the only act Bangalore should be applauded for was their young wicketkeeper-batsman's decision to walk when the umpire had given him not out. Sreevats Goswami clearly has the sportsman's spirit to go with his noticeable cricketing talents.
Bangalore had early troubles against Gony, who got his outswinger going against Kallis. He made 5, his run of horror continuing. Goswami fell next, caught behind.
Chennai came up with two terrific catches next. First, Albie Morkel took a tumble at the midwicket boundary to send back Virat Kohli. Misbah-ul Haq then fell driving to a juicy outswinger from Laxmipathi Balaji, as wicketkeeper Pathiv Patel dived full length to his right to take a catch.
Morkel bowled fast and full to the tail to finish with 4-32. The good news for Bangalore is that their standing in the IPL has now improved to seventh. They have overtaken Deccan Chargers.
Chennai still are in third place so they do not have reasons to worry yet. Their nearest threat is Mumbai, who still have three matches left to Chennai's two.