It was predicted in the preview to the Chennai-Bangalore match that the batting exploits of the two sides could pretty much decide the eventual result of the match. That was pretty much the case in the end. Chennai had enough batsmen who found their groove batting first. And, although they fell short of where they should have ended up, they had a competitive total on the board. A Chris Gayle-less batting unit needed the other star performers to fire. Skipper Virat Kohli did, but the rest proved no match for Ashish Nehra.
Two decisive performances from Chennai, one in the batting department, and one in the bowling, swung the match in their favour. First was definitely the batting exploit of Suresh Raina. He hadn't been having a great run in IPL 8, but on Wednesday, he definitely hit all the right notes. Raina was equally at ease against both spin and pace, a trademark of his IPL specials. One thing is assured, when Raina makes a decent score, it would be at a fast pace. This was again the case against Bangalore.
The second significant performance of the day came from Ashish Nehra. The former India left- arm pacer had earlier bowled a brilliant spell against Delhi Daredevils to lead Chennai to victory. But, his effort of 4 for 10 on Wednesday was even better. The quality of the opposition even in the absence of Gayle was pretty good. Yet, Nehra came out and overpowered them. His scalps were also big ones -- Gayle's replacement in the match Manvinder Bisla, Rilee Rossouw and opposition skipper Kohli. These blows clearly put Bangalore on the back foot, in what was another disappointing effort with both bat and ball.
Kohli batted well for Bangalore, but he clearly needed a lot more support than what he eventually got. The losses of Dinesh Karthik and AB de Villiers were clearly massive setbacks. Karthik has been particularly poor in this edition, and Bangalore would be ruing purchasing him at such a high price. De Villiers was bound to have a failure somewhere. Unfortunately, it came in the same match where most others also struggled. In hindsight, Bangalore perhaps do not have as strong a batting line up as believed since they depend heavily on two to three players.
Coming back to Chennai, they should be pleased with their overall effort. While Nehra and Raina were undoubtedly the heroes, Dwayne Smith again shone at the top, giving the team a confident start. Towards the end, Faf du Plessis also chipped in with a nice cameo. In contrast, Bangalore were always playing catch up, and were eventually left behind.
--By A Cricket Analyst