Royals’ batting fails to build on a great start provided by Shane Watson and Ankit Sharma
Mahendra Singh Dhoni and man-of-the-match Ravindra Jadeja fashioned Chennai Super Kings’s five-wicket victory against Rajasthan Royals and almost assured the team a play-off berth at the JSCA Stadium here on Tuesday.
CSK with 16 points has jumped to the top of the table, while a fourth loss means Royals remains on 12 points and third place.
After Royals put up a challenging 148 for eight, Super Kings made a good start before slumping to slow batting but gathered momentum in the last three overs to reach 149 for five in 19.4 overs.
Super Kings needed 32 runs off 18 balls, 25 off 12 and 12 off six. Jadeja started it all with a six off Kevon Cooper in the 19th over as the two gathered 13 runs. In the final over by James Faulkner, Jadeja got a single and left it to the captain to hit a six, a couple and a three in the next three balls to achieve a great win.
Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum opened the chase with the West Indian straight away hoisting Faulkner for two sixes. Ankit Sharma, playing for the Royals for the first time, was tight and bowled to the field. He snared McCullum, taken at square-leg while going for a full-blooded sweep, and then Suresh Raina, sweeping into the hands of Rajat Bhatia at backward-square-leg.
After Faf du Plessis survived when the ball bowled by Cooper rolled on to hit the stumps but failed to dislodge the bails, Smith fell to Cooper beaten by a slow bouncer. Smith, who became the second batsmen to go past 400 runs after Glenn Maxwell, missed his sixth half century to be out for 44 (35b, 5×4, 2×6).
R. Ashwin, promoted in the batting order, and du Plessis manfully strove to gather runs on a slow pitch but failed to make much headway. Dhoni joined du Plessis but the runs were hard to come by. The South African did well to reach 38 off 39 balls with two fours even as the required rate claimed above 10. Faulkner delivered a yorker to dismiss du Plessis before Jadeja and Dhoni finished off the game.
Opting to bat, Shane Watson surprised the opposition by coming out to open with Ankit. The move paid off as the two gave a solid start with a partnership of 60 in 7.5 overs in which the left-handed Ankit outscored his senior partner. Ankit chanced his arm too often and was dismissed by Ashwin for 30.
Watson settled down to play a breezy innings. Despite losing Ajinkya Rahane early, the Aussie was in his element. A six off Ishwar Pandey followed by two off debutant Vijay Shankar and one off Mohit Sharma helped the burly batsman to record his highest score of this season.
Watson was bowled by Mohit when he tried to hit one out of the ground. His 51 came off 36 balls and had three boundaries as well. The later-order Royals batsmen hardly made an impact.
Royals made three changes to the combination, bringing in Dishant Yagnik, Cooper and Ankit for Sanju Viswanadh, Kane Richardson and Rahul Tewatia respectively. Super Kings opted for Vijay Shankar in place of Mithun Manhas.
Meanwhile CSK has roped in David Hussey as a replacement for the injured Dwayne Bravo.