Yash Dayal's year - stung by Rinku to stinging CSK

Moody on Dayal: He's now remembered for significant over (3:23)

Dayal's sensational last over against CSK sealed the playoffs spot for RCB (3:23)

Cast your mind to April 9, 2023. Yash Dayal is bowling the final over of Gujarat Titans' league game against Kolkata Knight Riders. He has 28 runs to defend but is carted for five sixes in a row by Rinku Singh as GT lose the game by three wickets. Dayal is heartbroken. The image of him on his haunches, covering his eyes with a towel is splashed around the internet for the next few days. Dayal does not get a game for more than a month and is then released into the auction pool where he is picked by Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

Fast forward to May 18, 2024. Dayal, who has had a good run in IPL 2024, is tasked with perhaps the most important over of his short IPL career. His team's playoff hopes hinge on these six balls. He has 16 runs to defend for RCB to advance and is bowling to one of the greatest finishers in IPL history in MS Dhoni. The first ball he bowls is a full toss on Dhoni's pads which he duly clatters out of the stadium for a 110m six.

Dayal's subconscious mind immediately takes him one year back to that difficult evening in Ahmedabad. The nerves start to jangle. Is history repeating itself? With CSK requiring 11 off five to qualify, Dayal takes a moment for himself. This is his shot at redemption, a way to show that he belongs. He runs in and delivers a back-of-the-hand slower ball on a length around off stump. Dhoni swings across the line but is deceived by the lack of pace and the big top edge carries to deep-backward square leg.

Pandemonium sets in the Bengaluru stands. The RCB fans are ecstatic, the CSK fans stunned.

But Dayal knows the job isn't done. Shardul Thakur and Ravindra Jadeja are more than capable of getting 11 off four. Dayal, though, remains unflappable. He lands four slower balls on the spot for 0, 1, 0, 0 as RCB complete the most stunning turnarounds to qualify for the playoffs. Virat Kohli is nearly in tears, Faf du Plessis doesn't know what to do, and the RCB fielders are haring around the Chinnaswamy Stadium. And amid all that, Dayal stands tall with a beaming smile and a final-over redemption story for the ages.

"After what happened to me last time [against KKR in 2023], there was nervousness," Dayal said after the game. "When I got hit off that first ball, I subconsciously went back to that place. But I have done well in the past, I have done well after that, so all that was running through my mind was to deliver a good ball. I didn't want to look at the scoreboard or the result. I just wanted to bowl well. I was confident with my execution."

But Dayal wasn't even supposed to bowl the last over. "I was supposed to bowl the second last over," he said. "Suddenly DK [Dinesh Karthik] bhaiya and Faf talked to each other, and it was decided that Lockie [Ferguson] bowls the 19th and me the last. I was fine with anything."

Perhaps it was meant to be for Dayal.

It was a performance worthy of a match that had so much at stake. RCB-CSK clashes, in general, have that extra bit of spice to them and the air of anticipation around this one was palpable hours before the start of the game. The games at the Chinnaswamy generally have a sea of red dominating the stands, with the aar-cee-bee chants taking the decibel level through the roof. But not when CSK are in town. There were as many yellow shirts in the stands as red. At any point that the RCB-RCB chants went up, they were quickly drowned by the CSK-CSK shouts. If Kohli was welcomed with wild frenzy, there was bedlam in Bengaluru when Dhoni walked out.

Sent into bat, RCB started like a train, then saw their momentum stymied by rain before a middle-order revival and a strong finish took them to 218. The equation was simple. To qualify for the playoffs, RCB needed to restrict CSK under 201. Glenn Maxwell prised out Ruturaj Gaikwad for a first-ball duck, Daryl Mitchell fell cheaply to Dayal, and when Rachin Ravindra and Shivam Dube fell in quick succession, it seemed like RCB were destined to make it to the playoffs.

Jadeja and Dhoni, though, had other plans.

They got together with CSK needing 72 off 30 to qualify. By the end of the 18th over, they needed 35 off 12. Then Ferguson went for 18, and with 17 required in the final over, the game once again was in balance.

As Dayal stood at the top of his mark, all he wished for was to "deliver two balls well". He hadn't had the best of days up to that point, going for 35 off his first three overs. The execution with the first ball of the 20th went awry too, but he came back splendidly bowling the next five on the spot to take RCB into the playoffs. The redemption arc was complete.

But after the game, Dayal had to face the banter for conceding a six off the first ball.

"The best thing that happened today was Dhoni hitting a six outside the ground… we got a new ball which was much better to bowl with," Karthik said in a video tweeted by RCB. "Yash, that was good bowling. If you have a doubt, always bowl a hip-high full toss on leg stump. It is a good mantra to follow when the ball is wet."

For the longest time, Dayal's name has been associated with the bowler who failed to defend 28 in the final over. From Saturday, perhaps, he might be known as the one who denied Dhoni a fairytale finish.