Chennai: Harbhajan Singh rocked the top-order with a three-wicket burst as Chennai Super Kings shot out Royal Challengers Bangalore for a paltry 70 in 17.1 overs in the opening encounter of the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
On a slow Chepauk turner, the senior off-spinner opening the bowling, rolled back years with figures of 3/20 in his four-over spell that deflated Virat Kohli’s men completely.
Once Harbhajan had wreaked havoc, Imran Tahir (3/9 in 3 overs) tormented RCB even more with his traditional leg-breaks to kill the contest in the first half. With so much assistance for spinners, Ravindra Jadeja wasn’t going to be left behind, finishing with 2/15 in 4 overs.
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s inspired move to open with Harbhajan paid brilliant dividends as he removed rival skipper Kohli (6) in the fourth over and RCB never recovered from that early blow.
Having gauged the pace of the pitch, Harbhajan altered the length of his deliveries effectively and also reduced the pace to trouble the batsmen. While he was lucky as his off-break dropped short but Kohli’s mistimed pull-shot was taken by Jadeja at mid-wicket boundary.
Moeen Ali slog swept Harbhajan for a six but that was all that he could manage with a length delivery stopping on him as he tried to check his drive and loopy return catch was gleefully accepted.
AB de Villiers (9) wanted to hit out of trouble and was first dropped by Imran Tahir and off the very next ball was caught by Jadeja at mid-wicket boundary. With Shimron Hetmyer (0) getting run-out needlessly, RCB were in the dumps even before halfway stage.
It was the perfect platform for Tahir and Jadeja, who looked unplayable with the pitch offering reasonable turn and the lower-order’s confidence shot to pieces.