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  5. Yash Dayal conquers past demons to deny IPL's greatest finisher a fairytale finish

Yash Dayal conquers past demons to deny IPL's greatest finisher a fairytale finish

Yash Dayal was bought by Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at the IPL (Indian Premier League) 2024 auction for INR five crore. He is the leading wicket-taker for RCB in the ongoing 17th edition of the cash-rich league with 15 wickets in 13 games.

Written By: Kumar Rupesh @afiestysoul New Delhi Updated on: May 22, 2024 23:08 IST
Yash Dayal.
Image Source : AP Yash Dayal.

On May 18, the air around Bengaluru was unusually hot despite the persistent drizzle that lashed parts of the city a day before. Ideally, the precipitation level should have enveloped the city with a layer of chill but it wasn't the case.

Interestingly, the rise in mercury was not because of the heat wave that was sucking the life out of the Bengalureans a few weeks ago, instead, it was due to an approaching event.

An event, so momentous, that it urged the dwellers of Silicon Valley to throng the roads at the break of dawn with a sense of anticipation.

Draped in the blue and red RCB jersey, hundreds of Bengalureans set off on their bikes in an act of solidarity to embolden their players ahead of the season-defining fixture.

Slated to take on the IPL defending champions Chennai Super Kings in a do-or-die fixture, the RCB players needed such robust support. As it assured them that the disappointment of the past 16 years was not going to deter the RCB fans from rooting for them.

Despite a significant chance of evening showers, Bengalureans thronged their temple of joy - the M Chinnaswamy Stadium and cheered their hearts out till a 110 m towering hit came from the middle of MS Dhoni's willow.

The gargantuan strike not only deflated the RCB fans who were otherwise brimming with optimism, but it also "transported" Yash Dayal, RCB's latest recruit, to the most harrowing day of his career.

On April 9, 2023, Dayal was clobbered for five consecutive sixes by Rinku Singh while defending 29 off the final over. While the game only cost Gujarat Titans two points, it had a considerable bearing on Dayal's mindset.

Peppered by the online abuse, Dayal lost his self-belief and place in the playing XI. He subsequently fell ill and could only manage to play two more games that season.

The onslaught cost him a place in the Titans' squad and he was forced to toss his hat into the IPL 2024 auction.

The David vs Goliath battle

Having emerged as the leading wicket-taker for the team in the tournament, Dayal had won the trust of his captain Faf du Plessis. Hence, the South African preferred Dayal's promise over the experience of Lockie Ferguson when CSK required 17 off six balls to qualify for the playoffs.

However, Faf's call put Dayal into a knock-out bout with IPL's most revered finisher - MS Dhoni.

Fondly known as Thala, Dhoni is arguably head and shoulders above any other finisher to play the cash-rich league. His imposing presence instils a fear of failure in the hearts of bowlers and drags them into bottomless chasms.

Ask Irfan Pathan and Axar Patel and they'll tell you how Dhoni casts a spell on the bowler delivering the final over with his aura and leaves him stranded in the middle of the amphitheatre as a forlorn figure.

The former CSK captain has an enviable record at the death in the IPL. Dhoni's boundary percentage at the death in the IPL is 26.18% which is greater than his dot-ball percentage (25.98%) during the same period.

The margin of error as a bowler gets reduced to its bare minimum when you are up against a player of such pedigree. Dayal was served a reminder of the same when Dhoni smoked his friendly full toss over the fine leg fence to set the tone for CSK on the first ball of the over.

Fortunately, for Dayal, the reminder was timely and not too costly as he still had 10 to defend off the final five balls. With his back against the wall, Dayal went for deception instead of pace and flummoxed IPL's greatest finisher before he could land another telling blow with his marauding willow.

The left-arm seamer opted for a back-of-a-hand slower one - a delivery that he had also used against Rinku Singh in that nightmarish over and was clattered for a maximum over the long-on fence. However, the UP-born didn't let the demons of his past cloud his thinking. He executed the slower one to perfection and induced a top edge which was held safely by Swapnil Singh at the square leg fence.

Dayal went on to bowl a dot, conceded a single and finished it off with two consecutive dots to etch his name in the hearts and minds of every RCB supporter who tuned into the game. But how did the left-arm seamer deny the IPL's greatest finisher a fairytale finish?

Well, the Instagram story of his nemesis might give you a cue.

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