None of the high-profile Chennai Super Kings batsmen, barring opener Dwayne Smith, fired. As a result, MS Dhoni’s men posted their lowest total in three matches this IPL – 140/6 – at the Dubai International Stadium on Wednesday.
Yet, the total proved to be enough in the end as their bowlers, backed up by some excellent catching, helped CSK to a 7-run victory and move to second on the points table. Royals were all out for 133.
Abhishek Nayar opening for Rajasthan Royals has not really justified his potential as a hard-hitting batsman. He could score at a brisk pace on his given day but in the three outings this IPL, the left-handed Mumbaikar has fallen for two single-digit scores including the 5 he made on Wednesday. Even the otherwise brisk Ajinkya Rahane got his timing wrong and failed to clear deep square leg. And when captain Shane Watson was brilliantly caught by fellow Australian Ben Hilfenhaus, who used his height and timed the jump perfectly at long-off, off Ravindra Jadeja, Royals were already staring at defeat in the seventh over.
Jadeja made it two-in-two when the young talent Sanju Samson offered the left-arm spinner a return catch. Jadeja finished with 4/33 and became the joint highest wicket-taker alongwith Lakshmipathi Balaji of Kings XI Punjab on six wickets. However, Balaji retained the Purple Cap.
It was a tall ask for Stuart Binny and Steve Smith, who even survived an easy stumping chance as MS Dhoni made a mess of the collection, Suresh Raina being the unlucky bowler. The asking rate was rising with every passing over and stroke making was becoming difficult, especially when the spinners were operating.
Earlier, Barbados’ 31-year-old batsman Smith (50), formerly of Mumbai Indians and the terminated Deccan Chargers, tore into Rajasthan Royals bowling attack with an impressive exhibition of strokeplay at the top but his batting colleagues failed to capitalise on the strong start after being put into bat.
Fellow opener Brendon McCullum (6) of New Zealand, in-form Suresh Raina (4), Faf du Plessis (7) and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni (5) were out cheaply on a slow pitch as CSK failed to put up a big score. But for Jadeja , who scored an unbeaten 36 off 33 balls lower down the order, Chennai score would have been even lower.
Half of their side were back in the pavilion just after the halfway mark as they were reduced to 74 for five in 11.1 overs. Their biggest partnership was the 39 between Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin (9 not out) for the unconquered seventh wicket.
—(With agency inputs)