While the Indian Premier League is having a hard time in the Supreme Court having to defend itself against allegations of betting, the two most affected teams by the scandal – Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals – played out a classic with CSK coming out on top by seven runs thanks to Ravindra Jadeja’s brilliant 4 for 33 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium on Wednesday night.
When CSK posted 140 for 6 on the board, RR looked on course for their second win in three matches. However, things turned out differently for them with Abhishek Nayar’s foolish run-out in the first over proving to be a big portent of defeat. Sanju Samson hit Ben Hilfenhaus for two attractive sixes, however, to put RR in the ascendancy before Ajinkya Rahane’s (15) careless shot against R Ashwin opened the floodgates for CSK. It was completely Jadeja’s show thereafter.
The India left-arm spinner bowled a nagging line to account for Shane Watson (7), Samson (16), Steven Smith (19) and Tim Southee (4) to put RR completely out of the contest. While Wastson and Smith picked out Hilfenhaus and Faf du Plessis at long-off, Samson gave a simple return catch. Amidst Jadeja’s excellent bowling, medium pacer Mohit Sharma and Ishwar Pandey also got rid of allrounders Stuart Binny (8) and James Faulkner (4).
Rajat Bhatia (23) and Dhawal Kulkarni (28) tried to take the fight to the opposition but their efforts weren’t enough as RR were bowled out for 133 in 19.5 overs. RR needed 24 runs in the last over and when Kulkarni hit Ashwin for two big sixes, it looked like the match was going the other way. With nine needed off two balls, Pravin Tambe ran himself out failing to respond to batsman Kulkarni’s call for two in time, resulting in a narrow defeat.
Earlier, CSK got off to a flier largely because of Dwayne Smith whose power-hitting at the start made RR captain Watson’s decision to field look bad at first. In the 35-run opening stand with Brendon McCullum, the West Indian scored the majority of the runs entertaining the spectators a great deal especially by means of two sixes, one over bowler James Faulkner’s head, the other one off Southee, on debut for RR, over long-off.
After McCullum departed for six thanks to a brilliant running-backwards catch by Steven at midwicket off Faulkner, an undeterred Dwayne smacked Faulkner for four fours in the same over. Dwayne’s dominance could be gauged from the fact that out of CSK’s 59, fifty came off his bat. Against the run of play, however, the right-hander found Watson at mid-off off Stuart Binny’s next ball after his fifty, bringing du Plessis at the crease to accompany Suresh Raina.
After Dwayne’s (50 off 28 balls, 6x4s, 3x6s), CSK’s innings didn’t remain the same. A flurry of wickets saw them reduced from 59 for 2 to 101 for 5, thanks to some excellent bowling from Bhatia and legspinner Pravin Tambe. While Raina (4) fell to a slow cutter bowled by Bhatia, du Plessis (7) was unfortunate to be run-out at the non-striker’s end as the ball deflected off bowler Bhatia’s hand on to the stumps. Captain MS Dhoni (5) fell to a poor shot off Tambe as Faulkner took a simple catch at deep square leg.
Jadeja and Mithun Manhas tried to forge a partnership but all they could manage was 27 before Manhas (10) found Rahane off the bowling of fellow Delhiman Bhatia. Do what they would, Jadeja (36*) and Ashwin (8*) failed to score quick runs in the last few overs, leaving RR bowlers to defend a modest target.
Brief score: CSK 140 for 6 in 20 overs (Smith 50, Jadeja 36*; Bhatia 2/13) beat RR 133 in 19.5 overs (Kulkarni 28*, Bhatia 23; Jadeja 4/33) by seven runs