Rajasthan Royals keeps its home record clean, winning all eight matches

Rajasthan Royals successfully defended an invasion for the eighth time and stayed on course for a play-off berth in the Indian Premier League. The SMS Stadum has proved an invincible challenge for the visiting teams this season — Chennai Super Kings tonight — as Rajasthan Royals won by five wickets against a team fancied to win the title.

Shane Watson’s destructive knock and his 93-run stand with a brilliant Stuart Binny clinched the contest for Rajasthan Royals.

Chasing 142, Rajasthan Royals suffered a double blow in the fourth over when Jason Holder, the tall fast bowler from Barbados, accounted for Ajinkya Rahane and James Faulkner, who was promoted over Watson, a move that did not work.

Faulkner’s shot was ambitious but unwise, for, Mohit Sharma bowls a decent stump to stump to line. The batsman missed the ball but the bowler was bang on target, hitting the stump.

Mohit bowled his quota in one go, a good tactic by Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, before the team incurred Watson’s fury.

Rajasthan Royals needed an early thrust and flourish but Sanju Vishwanadh Samson failed. It was left to Watson and Rahul Dravid as Chennai Super Kings made run-making an increasingly difficult task.

Clinical hitting

The home team sorely needed an aggressive partnership. It came through some clinical hitting by ‘man-of-the-match’ Watson and Binny.

A 23-run over by R. Ashwin proved the catalyst. Watson and Binny attacked and triumphed in style.

A lap to thank their fans was a thoughtful move by the home team indeed.

CSK’s innings never took off. It had the potential but credit to Rajasthan Royals for plugging the opponent’s strong areas and looking smart in the field. It was a performance that went with the team’s reputation of reading the situation and adapting.

Skipper Dravid sprung a surprise in Vikramjeet Malik, who played his first IPL match of the season, conceding just three in the opening over. It worked on the mind of the CSK openers since the second over gave them a mere four runs.

Spadework

Michael Hussey, the most prolific run-accumulator and impact-maker like Chris Gayle, did the spadework with Murali Vijay, who came up with his second half century, not very convincing but useful nevertheless, before he ran himself out.

Essentially, Dhoni’s cheap dismissal, taken at second slip, after Suresh Raina holed out to long-off, slowed the team. The wickets fell in the same over as Kevon Cooper foxed Raina with a slower one and Dhoni with an away-seamer.

Vijay’s knock was to prove crucial since Ravindra Jadeja was cramped for space and the innings got a huge boost from Dwayne Bravo, who picked the gaps intelligently.

A target of 142 was never going to be easy to defend and a ferocious assault by Watson ensured it. He just buried the opponents with a fascinating range of strokeplay. Chennai got him but a mere four runs from the destination.

Scoreboard:

Chennai Super Kings: Michael Hussey b Binny 40 (40b, 6x4), Murali Vijay (run out) 55 (50b, 6x4), Suresh Raina c Sanju b Cooper 1 (2b), M.S. Dhoni c Watson b Cooper 2 (3b), Ravindra Jadeja (not out) 12 (14b), Dwayne Bravo (not out) 23 (11b, 4x4); Extras (lb-5, w-3): 8. Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 141.

Fall of wickets: 1-83 (Hussey), 2-86 (Raina), 3-89 (Dhoni), 4-113 (Vijay).

Rajasthan Royals bowling: Vikramjeet Malik 3-0-19-0, James Faulkner 4-0-23-0, Shane Watson 4-0-23-0, Siddharth Trivedi 2-0-22-0, Kevon Cooper 4-0-32-2, Stuart Binny 3-0-17-1.

Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid c Dhoni b Morris 22 (28b, 2x4), Ajinkya Rahane c Vijay b Holder 9 (10b, 1x4), James Faulkner b Holder 1 (2b), Sanju Vishwanadh c Dhoni b Mohit 0 (5b), Shane Watson b Bravo 70 (34b, 6x4, 6x6), Stuart Binny (not out) 41 (23b, 2x4, 3x6), Brad Hodge (not out) 0 (1b); Extras (w-1):1; Total (for five wkts. in 17.1 overs): 144.

Fall of wickets: 1-14 (Rahane), 2-18 (Faulkner), 3-19 (Sanju), 4-45 (Dravid), 5-138 (Watson).

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Mohit Sharma 4-0-21-1, Jason Holder 4-0-20-2, Chris Morris 4-0-36-1, Dwayne Bravo 3-0-35-1, R. Ashwin 1-0-23-0, Ravindra Jadeja 1.1-0-9-0.

Man-of-the match: S. Watson.