Every bowler’s worst nightmare finally came true: on a humid Saturday evening, and on a perfect sleeping beauty, one batsman after another went on the rampage to literally set the Chidambaram Stadium on fire.
In the end, it was nothing but a massacre; only a miracle saved the match from going down as a rabid joke.
M Vijay, who showed signs of manic aggression in the earlier match, went berserk in a crucial match for the Super Kings; he started in a fitfully quiet manner, greeting Shane Warne’s trump card Yusuf Pathan with utmost dignity.
But when Warne pulled out another card, Sumit Narwal this time, he cut loose: 6, 4 and another 4 got the heartbeats racing inside the packed stadium. They, however, didn’t give an indication of the mayhem to follow; runs flowed from his blade like booze on a wild night of partying.
The original tormentor, Mathew Hayden, could only watch as his micro version attacked with the freedom and finesse of a soaring bird; he didn’t have time for a single bowler, neither for Shaun Tait, nor Shane Watson or Warne, as he towered over the blazing horizon.
By the time dusk descended on Chennai, the Super Kings had amassed 246 for five, the highest tally in the Indian Premier League; Albie Morkel simply added more colour to the fireworks with his blistering 62 off 34 deliveries.
If the hosts thought that the party was over, they were in for a rude shock: the Royals, like true warriors, simply don’t believe in giving up without a fight. Led by the lanky duo of Michael Lumb and Naman Ojha, they went after the target like hungry wolves.
At the fall of the first wicket, Warne unleashed his trump card again; but a smart boundary later, Yusuf smashed what seemed like a clear sixer. Bollinger, however, was clearly dreaming of exactly such a situation on his long journey from down under.
First he leapt well over his six-foot frame to intercept the shot; but then, as he lost his footing, he did a David Hussey: he tossed the ball into the air, jumped over the line, hopped right back to complete a sensational catch.
The Royals lost the gambit, and along with it, the match too; incidentally, it also marked the arrival of the final string of Aussies into the fray. Bollinger, apart from the catch, returned with the stunning figures of two for 15 in his four overs which proved to be the standout of the match.
He wasn’t alone though: his teammate Shane Watson slammed 60 of a mere 25 to keep his side in the hunt till the very end. At one stage, in the 14th over, they were actually shoulder-to-shoulder with the Super Kings. His cool and clinical hitting was almost the perfect riposte to Vijay’s 127.
As luck would have it, Watson was bowled by Bollinger himself; as the two crossed each other, they exchanged smiles: the only difference was that one was cheery while the other was wry. Ojha remained unconquered on 94, off just 55 deliveries; but it was clearly beyond his slim shoulders......