As a historic Twenty20 between Pakistan and Zimbabwe played out in Lahore, Chennai Super Kings were quietly demonstrating why they’re the most successful side in the Indian Premier League.

Yet another final. Their sixth in eight editions of the IPL. Chennai Super Kings fans have stopped expecting any less now. And Royal Challengers Bangalore will be licking their wounds, thinking of what if.

Chennai execute the squeeze perfectly

It all seemed different at the start. RCB were coming off a great run of form. They had demolished Rajasthan and were looking good to win one more. Chennai seemed the weaker side. The demoralising loss to Mumbai would have been a big blow to lesser teams.

But not Chennai. One look at the pitch and you felt it was Chennai’s game. Low and slow. Ranchi, MSD’s home turf. This was tailor-made for the Chennai Super Kings.

But what hurt Bangalore more was that they played right into Chennai’s hands. Once Kohli and AB De Villiers departed, the run rate dropped staggeringly. Chris Gayle is one of the finest hitters in the world but a quick runner he is not. After nine overs, Bangalore were 41/3, the run rate only 4.5.

Thankfully for them, the charge did come but it was punctuated with wickets in fits and bursts. Gayle finally got tired of waiting for a left-arm spinner to come on and swung violently for two massive sixes off Raina. Unfortunately, he went for a needless third six to give his wicket away. Sarfaraz Khan provide some vital late order runs but Chennai’s death bowling experts , Bravo and Nehra, kept on chipping away at the wickets.

At the end of the nineteenth over, RCB were 131/6. They would have targeted more than 140 at that point, but only managed to get eight off the last over, even after hitting a boundary off the second delivery. In hindsight, a total of 150 and above might have proved to be the difference.

Sloppy fielding from Bangalore

Let’s not mince words: RCB’s catching was atrocious throughout Chennai’s chase. Their bowlers gave it their all, but the fielders let them down.

At 21/1 with Smith just dismissed, Gayle dropped du Plessis off the first ball he faced. A costly drop, but it was going to get worse. Next ball, Hussey offered a sharp catch to short midwicket, but Harshal Patel was too late in his dive. Hussey would go on to play the defining innings of the match, his 56 off 46 balls ensuring that Chennai’s chase stayed on track.

Dinesh Karthik, the wicket-keeper with the most number of dismissals in IPL history, had a horrible night. In the sixth over, Hussey offered another simple chance which Karthik grassed. Later on, he failed to collect the ball cleanly on two occasions – the second occasion costing Bangalore three additional runs in byes.

To be fair, Chennai were not at their best through the chase. Hussey’s innings was vital and he played some glorious shots, reminiscent of the days when he was the best finisher in world cricket. But Chennai huffed and puffed, and had it not been for RCB’s gaffes on the field, the story might have been different.

Dhoni has been under criticism this season for his batting, but today’s innings was another reminder that he isn’t finished yet. Dhoni arrived at 61/3, with two wickets falling in one over, one of them involving Suresh Raina. A similar situation had prevailed against Mumbai in the last match where Chennai had lost two wickets in an over to Harbhajan and failed to recover from the setback.

This time, Dhoni made sure he ended up on the right side. Recognising that the pitch was low and would not aid power hitting, he pinched the singles and gave the strike to Hussey. Once Hussey was removed, Dhoni continued to take his singles and run the twos, ensuring RCB never got a chance to pile on pressure. It was a typical Dhoni innings and it came at a time when some were starting to doubt his ability to play such innings.

On to the Garden of Eden

Royal Challengers Bangalore may have been eliminated at the penultimate stage, but it has to be said they were among the most entertaining teams in the IPL. Gayle, De Villiers and Kohli provided many of the thrills and chills this season, while Starc proved that his World Cup success wasn’t just a one-off. In Yuzuvendra Chahal they have unearthed a plucky young leg-spinner who should be nurtured for the future.

As Chennai move to the final in Kolkata, it becomes all the more interesting. In the 2013 final played at the same venue, Mumbai had defeated Chennai to win the title. Chennai have a shot at revenge now. But Mumbai will be quietly confident, knowing that they have defeated the Super Kings the last two times they played them.