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The good and the bad of turning down a single at the death | Indian Premier League

MI v RR Dream11 Preview
by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Sanju Samson’s last-over call to deny Chris Morris, a more-than-handy batsman, a single in the dying stages of the IPL 2021 game between Rajasthan Royals and Punjab Kings prompted mixed reactions.

Chris Morris’ helpless expression after his captain declined him a single in the final over of a tense run-chase is doing the rounds on social media. Sanju Samson, sitting on a fabulous hundred and confident enough to pull off the heist, couldn’t quite manage to do so, holing out off the final ball when five was required to win.

The incident prompted us to roll back the clock to five other such instances, some of one of which came in a win and a few others which resulted in losses.

MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu

CSK v DC, IPL 2018

It’s no secret that Dhoni backs himself to win the one-on-one battle with the bowler in the death overs. In IPL 2018, Chennai Super Kings, batting first, had a well set Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu in the middle in the final over with the total already over 200. Off the penultimate ball, Dhoni edged a pull off Trent Boult to Rishabh Pant who fumbled the catch. Rayudu, at the non-striker’s end, had rushed in, but Dhoni did not move an inch and the batsman was run out at his end even as he headed back with a quick sprint. Dhoni could only manage a couple of runs off the final ball he faced.

MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo

CSK v RCB, IPL 2019

In IPL 2019, Dhoni nearly produced a heist in the final over of another run chase, this time against Royal Challengers Bangalore. With 26 needed off the last, Dhoni scored 24 of them, but couldn’t get two off the final ball as CSK lost. In the penultimate over bowled by Navdeep Saini, Dhoni denied three singles despite the batsman at the other end, Dwayne Bravo, being a reputed batsman himself. Would those singles have mattered?

“I would never question the last part of an innings with MS Dhoni,” CSK head coach Stephen Fleming was later quoted as saying.

Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh

MI v KXIP, IPL 2017

In IPL 2017, a brilliant game between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab went down to the wire with Mumbai needing 16 off the last over. Pollard drove Mohit Sharma down the ground in the final over and took off for a single, but realising he probably wouldn’t make it back in time to take strike, Pollard seemed to deliberately run one short to keep strike. It turned out to be futile anyway as Punjab went on to win.

Sanju Samson and Rahul Tewatia

RR vs KXIP, IPL 2020

In the memorable game between Rajasthan Royals and Punjab in the 2020 edition of the IPL in Sharjah, Tewatia got off to a slow start, making 8 in 19 balls. Before he unleashed his now-well-know fury with five sixes in an over, a well-set Samson denied him singles to take down off-spinner Glenn Maxwell, a match-up favourable to him.

Khaleel Ahmed and T Natarajan

SRH vs KXIP, IPL 2020

IPL 2020 saw another hilarious incident of a batsman declining a single. Sunrisers Hyderabad needed 13 off three balls when Khaleel Ahmed bizarrely chose to defend a back of a length delivery. On top of that, he declined the advancing Natarajan, his partner, a single, inviting criticism from all quarters. With 13 needed off two now, Sunrisers were all but out of the game and Khaleel, off the next delivery, decided to defend again. This time he took off for a single and was promptly run out.

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