Chennai Super Kings clinched victory over Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League cliff-hanger at the Dubai cricket stadium on Wednesday night.
In a low-scoring contest, the southern side ably defended it modest total of 140 for six, cutting short the rival’s chase at 133 for nine, the Royals inching this close thanks to Dhawal Kulkarni’s valiant 28 not out off 19 balls, studded with two sixes.
Ravindra Jadeja, wrecker in chief for the men in yellow with a splendid four for 33, drew level with Lakshmipathi Balaji as leading wicket-taker in the tournament, with a bag of half a dozen scalps so far.
The urge for the big hit proved to be the undoing of both Ajinkya Rahane and Shane Watson, the former caught by mid-wicket Mithun Manhas off R. Ashwin and the latter by long-off Hilfenhaus running towards the sight screen in a well-judged effort off Jadeja. Sanju Samson seemed to be shaping up well, lofting Hilfenhaus over the long-on signboards twice. Foxed by a delivery from Jadeja that kept low, he spooned a catch back to the bowler.
As the Royals’ response staggered, the last recognised pair of Stuart Binny and Steven Smith tried to stem the rot, but in vain.
Binny was bitten by the big-hit bug too and departed after heaving to Faf du Plessis at long off. Smith survived when Mohit Sharma couldn’t hold on to a tough chance in the long-off region. Such lapses were unlikely from du Plessis, stationed at long-off where he snapped up another Smith offering, the ball sailing straight into his hands off Jadeja. In a late order, lost-cause slog, Rajat Bhatia slammed a six and a four.
The Royals won the toss and chose to field, their lone change being Tim Southee making the squad in place of an unwell Kane Richardson. Both the openers, Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, faltered, with the latter skying one to mid-wicket. A trio of Royals fieldsmen went for it, but Smith managed to keep his eye on the ball and take the catch.
Save for a rap on the helmet from Kulkarni that amused him more than rattled him, Smith was on song.
His first two sixes off Faulkner and Southee were sweetly struck, and tensile forearms forged the third off Binny over mid-wicket.
The medium-pacer got him, though, as Smith, going for another big one, played into the hands of mid-off Watson.
Raina left soon, Kulkarni raking up the catch at short third man off Bhatia.
Bhatia had a hand in du Plessis’s exit too, the latter backing up and paying the price for deserting the safer confines of the non-striker’s crease as the ball ricocheted into the stumps under the umpire’s nose.
Chennai Super Kings: Dwayne Smith c Watson b Binny 50 (28b, 6x 4, 3x6), Brendon McCullum c Smith b Faulkner 6 (10b), Suresh Raina c Kulkarni b Bhatia 4 (9b), Faf du Plessis run out 7 (9b), M.S. Dhoni c Faulkner b Tambe 5 (8b), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 36 (33b, 2x4), Mithun Manhas c Rahane b Bhatia 10 (10b, 1x4), R. Ashwin (not out) 9 (13b, 1x 4); Extras (lb-2, w-11): 13; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 140
Fall of wickets: 1-35 (McCullum), 2-59 (Smith), 3-64 (Raina), 4-71 (du Plessis) , 5-74 (Dhoni), 6-101 (Manhas)
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Dhawal Kulkarni 3-0-18-0, Tim Southee 4-0-27-0, James Faulkner 3-0-38-1, Pravin Tambe 4-0-27-1, Stuart Binny 1-0-10-1, Rajat Bhatia 4-0-13-2, Shane Watson 1-0-5-0.
Rajasthan Royals: Abhishek Nayar run out 5 (7b, 1x4), Ajinkya Rahane c Manhas b Ashwin 15 (12b, 2x4), Sanju Viswanadh c & b Jadeja 16 (16b, 2x4), Shane Watson c Hilfenhaus b Jadeja 7 (6b, 1x6), Stuart Binny c du Plessis b Mohit 8 (11b), Steven Smith c du Plessis b Jadeja 19 (20b, 1x4), Rajat Bhatia c Ashwin b Hilfenhaus 23 (20b, 1x4, 1x6), James Faulkner c Dhoni b Pandey 4 (2b, 1x4), Tim Southee b Jadeja 4 (4b, 1x 4), Dhawal Kulkarni (not out) 28 (19b, 2x6), Pravin Tambe run out 2 (2b); Extras (w-2): 2; Total (in 19.5 overs): 133.
Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Nayar), 2-37 (Rahane), 3-44 (Watson), 4-44 (Viswanadh), 5-63 (Binny), 6-75 (Smith), 7-80 (Faulkner), 8-85 (Southee), 9-113 (Bhatia).
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ben Hilfenhaus 4-0-32-1, Ishwar Pandey 4-1-22-1, R. Ashwin 3.5-0-27-1, Ravindra Jadeja 4-0-33-4, Suresh Raina 2-0-6-0, Mohit Sharma 2-0-13-1.
Man-of-the-match: Ravindra Jadeja
Chennai Super Kings won by 7 runs