You really fear for Rajasthan Royals now, don’t you? Having defeated everyone on their turf, Rahul Dravid’s men will travel to Delhi for the Champions League T20 final on Sunday. RR’s journey to the summit clash has been nothing but a fairytale.

It seems quite remarkable that the franchise has put the spot-fixing scandal behind, a controversy which threatened its existence just a few months ago. However, fairytales don’t always end to everyone’s satisfaction and the slow Ferozeshah Kotla track may prove to be RR’s bane.

Yet, many claimed that Chennai Super Kings would excel on the bouncy Sawai Mansingh Stadium track and that didn’t exactly go to plan. CSK’s famed batting line-up came a cropper as it lost the first semifinal by 14 runs on Friday.

Hussey falls early

The beginning was inauspicious; Michael Hussey was dismissed early in pursuit of 160 due to a miscommunication between him and Murali Vijay. The Indian opener seemed adamant to be dismissed run out himself and his wish was fulfilled by Sanju Vishwanadh’s direct hit in the sixth over.

Leg-spinner Pravin Tambe’s introduction sharply shifted fortunes in RR’s favour. A 27-ball period saw five wickets fall for 21 runs, with the 41-year-old picking three of them. But it was Dhoni’s lbw dismissal to a rare good length delivery from Rahul Shukla — he had bowled bafflingly short until then — which handed RR the edge.

R. Ashwin and Chris Morris added 73 off 43 balls for the eighth wicket to give the home crowd a scare, but the duo never really threatened to win the game for CSK.

Earlier, Dhoni’s decision to include Morris in Albie Morkel’s place proved to be a shrewd one; the pacer rarely afforded any room to the batsmen on either side of the stumps. Morris largely stuck to a good length, but he earned his wickets off fuller deliveries.

The South African got his first reward when Dravid tried to work him on the on-side, only to miss the line and get bowled. The skipper’s opening partner, though, displayed better judgment to guide RR’s innings.

Rahane sparkles

Ajinkya Rahane, while striking his third consecutive half-century, produced an innings of remarkable composure, unlike his teammates.

Watson did enact his usual explosive fare for a while, as he added 60 off 39 balls with Rahane for the fourth wicket. But the rest arrived and left a bit too early, keeping RR on tenterhooks throughout its innings.

Kevon Cooper was pushed to No. 3, but his pinch-hitting assignment was cut short by Mohit Sharma when he was caught at cover. The West Indian, though, did milk the medium-pacer for a couple of fours and a six before his dismissal.

Vishwanadh and Watson chose similar ways of departure, top-edging good length deliveries to be caught within the 30-yard circle. Nevertheless, RR seemed set to touch the 170-mark throughout, but the loss of four wickets for 10 runs in the final two overs hindered its ambitions.


Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid b Morris 5 (8b, 1x4), Ajinkya Rahane c Mohit b Bravo 70 (56b, 6x4, 2x6), Kevon Cooper c Badrinath b Mohit 14 (7b, 2x4, 1x6), Sanju Viswanadh c Ashwin b Holder 11 (10b, 1x4), Shane Watson c Holder b Morris 32 (23b, 4x4), Brad Hodge b Holder 11 (9b, 1x4), Stuart Binny c Jadeja b Bravo 5 (5b), Dishant Yagnik c Holder b Bravo 0 (1b), James Faulkner (not out) 1 (1b), Rahul Shukla (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (lb-1, w-7, nb-1): 9; Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs): 159.

Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Dravid), 2-29 (Cooper), 3-62 (Viswanadh), 4-121 (Watson), 5-149 (Hodge), 6-155 (Rahane), 7-157 (Yagnik), 8-157 (Binny).

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ravindra Jadeja 3-0-19-0, Mohit Sharma 4-0-37-1, Chris Morris 4-0-25-2, Jason Holder 4-0-35-2, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-26-3, Ravichandran Ashwin 1-0-16-0.

Chennai Super Kings: Michael Hussey run out 9 (11b, 1x4), Murali Vijay run out 14 (16b, 2x4), Suresh Raina c sub-Menaria b Tambe 29 (23b, 4x4), Subramaniam Badrinath st. Yagnik b Tambe 8 (10b, 1x4), Mahendra Singh Dhoni lbw b Shukla 3 (7b), Dwayne Bravo lbw b Tambe 3 (5b), Ravindra Jadeja c Yagnik b Watson 2 (4b), Chris Morris (not out) 26 (17b, 3x4), Ravichandran Ashwin c Binny b Faulkner 46 (28b, 3x4, 3x6), Jason Holder (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-1, w-3, nb-1): 5; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 145.

Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Hussey), 2-33 (Vijay), 3-51 (Badrinath), 4-54 (Dhoni), 5-61 (Bravo), 6-70 (Jadeja), 7-72 (Raina), 8-145 (Ashwin).

Rajasthan Royals bowling: Stuart Binny 1-0-2-0, James Faulkner 4-0-36-1, Shane Watson 4-0-34-1, Rahul Shukla 3-0-21-1, Kevon Cooper 4-0-41-0, Pravin Tambe 4-0-10-3.

Man-of-the-match: Pravin Tambe

This article has been corrected for a factual error.

Under the CSK scoreline and fall of wickets, it was erroneously given that Tambe was the third one to get out, when it was Badrinath.


Can CSK beard ‘lion’ RR in its den?October 4, 2013

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