Rajasthan Royals pulled off a crucial victory against the Chennai Super Kings to finish second on the points table, bettering the Lucknow Super Giants barely by net run rate. It was quite a close victory for the Royals, as Ravichandran Ashwin got his side out of the woods, scoring a 23-ball 40, which turned out to be the difference between the two sides.
The Super Kings, who finished a disappointing season with yet another loss, will definitely be gutted with Friday’s game, especially after the kind of start they got with Moeen Ali tearing the Rajasthan attack to shreds. However, some quick wickets put a plug on what could have been a much bigger total, as CSK were restricted to a modest score of 150, which the Royals were able to chase down.
MS Dhoni won the toss and chose to bat first. More importantly, he confirmed to the entire cricketing fraternity that he will not be retiring and will continue to represent and lead the Chennai franchise in the next season and potentially future seasons as well. The skipper felt that he owed the entire nation a great deal, and with next year’s IPL hopefully being a full-fledged tournament without the bio-bubbles, he wanted to thank the entire nation, and Chennai in particular, for supporting him over the years.
The Chennai innings started off with a magnificent over from Kiwi pacer Trent Boult, who dismissed Ruturaj Gaikwad for the third time in four innings. However, that was not going to deter the Chennai batsmen, as Ali walked into the crease in red-hot form.
The Englishman was in ruthless form, as he dispatched everything to the fence, including some really good deliveries. He unstoppable, particularly in the first half of the innings, as CSK scored 75 runs in the powerplay, with Devon Conway playing second fiddle.
The Englishman carried on the show after the powerplay as well, getting to a half-century in just 19 balls, CSK’s second-fastest after Suresh Raina. To put things into perspective, 62 of Ali’s first 65 runs came off boundaries alone. However, Devon Conway, Narayan Jagadeesan, and Ambati Rayudu were all dismissed in quick succession, forcing Ali into a shell as he lost his momentum.
CSK’s innings went completely off track, and as a result, Dhoni and Ali played cautiously amid some disciplined bowling from the Royals. With a start suggesting that the CSK would easily come close to scoring 200, reality came as a bitter surprise, as they finished their innings on 150/6.
Chennai had a great start with the ball, as Simarjeet Singh sent Jos Buttler packing in the second over. Nevertheless, Yashasvi Jaiswal had a great day with the bat as the young left-hander took the attack to the Super Kings.
Sanju Samson had a rare quiet day with the bat, as he was struggling to score freely. Jaiswal, however, was able to cover for his captain, scoring a 44-ball 59 to keep his side in the chase, despite Samson and Devdutt Padikkal not contributing in a crucial game for the Royals.
Ravichandran Ashwin came in at number five over Riyan Parag in a surprise decision. But the surprising call turned out to be the match-winning move as the veteran all-rounder smashed two boundaries and three sixes to take the two points home in what was a very close game towards the end.
The win puts Rajasthan into second place, with the last playoff spot being a tussle between Bangalore and Delhi Capitals. MI will play kingmaker in their game against Delhi, with the Capitals needing a win to qualify.
Rajasthan Royals 151 for 5 (Jaiswal 59, Ashwin 40*, Solanki 2-20) beat Chennai Super Kings 150 for 6 (Moeen 93, Dhoni 26, McCoy 2-20) by 5 wickets