Chennai Super Kings 157 for 5 (20 overs) beat Rajasthan Royals 145 for 9 (20 overs) by 12 runs
It turned into the Ravindra Jadeja and the Dwayne Bravo show as the dazzling fielding of the West Indian propped up the left arm spinner who ended with figures of 4 for 11 and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) notched up a 12 run win over the Rajasthan Royals (RR). Lost in the superb win was the fact that Ravichandran Ashwin did not bowl a single ball in a game that was effectively decided by CSK’s slow bowlers and of course their fielding. The result leaves CSK almost assured of playoff qualification but compunds RR’s woes, who now need to win against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their last game.
The win came the same way most of CSK’s home wins this season have come – CSK batted first, put up a mid range total that was defendable on a slow wicket and used their slow bowlers and fielding to ensure victory. The model had come spectacularly apart against Mumbai Indians (MI) the other night but there was no errors from Pawan Negi this time and RR had no Hiren Pandya in their ranks for a last minute assault although Chris Morris did present a vague scare.
On a day when the talk of the IPL was some unreal batting from A B DeVilliers earlier in the day, Brendan McCullum came up with an innings very unlike any he’s played this season – one where he bided his time, played through the overs after the powerplay and patiently waited for the bad balls to smash them out of the park. The result was a sparkling 81 off 61 balls and had he stayed till the end, a hundred was certainly there for the taking. Anchored by the New Zealander playing his last game this season before he joins the national team in England (his replacement will be Michael Hussey), CSK rode on some last minute blows from Dwayne Bravo and M S Dhoni to reach 157 for 5 after Dhoni elected to bat. RR had a surprise captaincy change as Steve Smith came out for the toss, ostensibly having been handed the leading role by Shane Watson who wanted to concentrate on his batting and bowling. RR started well with Morris bowling a great first over and Ankit Sharma, the spinner bowling the third over, snaring Bravo. Morris changed ends and struck to remove Suresh Raina in the next over and CSK finished the powerplay at 36 for 2 as McCullum and duPlessis rebuilt the innings.
158 was always going to be a tricky chase on a wicket where stroke making was not easy and McCullum got most shots away by sheer force of will rather than timing. But when RR started their chase no one would probably have guessed that they would be felled by Ravindra Jadeja who accounted for Smith and Watson, the latter falling to a brilliant one handed grab at the boundary by Bravo. And most certainly no one would have guessed that Ravichandran Ashwin would not bowl a single over. Jadeja’s four wickets broke the back of RR’s chase as they slumped from 37 for no loss to 90 for 5. Despite late attempts by Sanju Samson, James Faulkner and Chris Morris, the asking rate had climbed too high for the kind of wicket it was and CSK’s fielding despite a couple of dropped catches and a misfield or two was by and large great.
The loss now means RR have to win against KKR in their last game or risk finishing outside the top 4 after being in there for the whole of the season. For CSK, it was a perfect sign off to their home leg and now bar unusually heavy defeats in their last two games we should see them in the playoffs.