11:59 pm: End of the week, start of the weekend and that means four more matches coming your way pretty soon. If CSK were worried about the change to Pune, that should ease their nerves. A massive win, and off they go to the top of the table, based on their NRR.
11:50 pm: CSK go top of the table and Dhoni is all smiles...
MS Dhoni: Unusual feeling. We are not used to this, getting off to a winning start. We need to keep our fitness levels up, given most of us are over 30. By the end of the 7th home game, hopefully this ground has more yellow jerseys. Our batsmen did the job tonight.
Shane Watson, player of the match: Was extra motivated to play against my old team tonight. Glad to repay the faith CSK have shown in me. Have seen Dhoni and Fleming set up a team with it’s own dynamic from afar, great to see it up close now.
11:44 pm: Presentation ceremony coming up... any guesses on who will be the man of the match?
11:34 pm: Post-match comments coming up...
Rahane: Credit goes to CSK, and especially Watson at the top of the order. Unfortunately we dropped that catch early but he played well after that. Fielding is something we have to improve. CSK just too good. In this format, it’s a fresh start every game.
End of the match - RR all out for 140 in 18.3 overs:
A 64-run win for Dhoni and Co as they celebrate their move to Pune in style! Karn Sharma cleans up the tail with two wickets in two balls - it’s been that kind of a day for Chennai. Everything clicked!
After 18 overs, RR 136/8:
Hey, would you look at that. Karn Sharma does get to bowl after all! And it’s the 18th over. Goes to show how clinical the CSK bowling effort has been. Unadkat plays a nice-looking inside out cover drive for four off the last ball.
And Dhoni is so confident now that Jadeja gets an over as well. It’s time to dish out those participation certificates, essentially. Six runs from Sir’s over.
After 16 overs, RR 121/8
WHAT. A. CATCH by Shardul Thakur! That’s a spectacular return catch by the quick. Incredible! Binny is rushed by a short ball, the pull short only barely lobs up though. But Thakur reaches there in a flash and takes a tumbling catch on the practice pitch. And boy, did he love it.
After 15 overs, RR 115/7
Time for Watson to add to his wicket column as well, after Gowtham is deceived by the slow bouncer and Dhoni takes a simple catch behind the stumps. Two runs and a wicket from that over, can Watto do any wrong for tonight?
After 14 overs, RR 113/6:
Ben Stokes is gone and so is the Royal’s hope of making a fist out of this run-chase. It was a struggle for Big Ben at the ground where he broke his IPL bread, so to speak. He fought it out, getting to 45 off 37 balls, before going for a big sweep towards the longest part of the ground. Billings takes another good catch.
After 13 overs, RR 103/5 - need 102 from 42 balls
TIME-OUT: DJ Bravo gets the second of his spell, another slower ball - of course. It’s heaved high by Tripathi, the slog sweep gets only as far as Sam Billings.
As we pause, it’s worth remembering Karn Sharma and Ravi Jadeja haven’t even been asked to bowl yet!
After 11 overs, RR 84/4
Well, jinxed the partnership didn’t we? End of a 45-run stand between Buttler and Stokes and it’s Bravo who strikes with his first ball of the day. Off-cutter, what else? Tahir takes a safe catch at short third-man and in come the dance moves from the West Indian. This is a big wicket for CSK as they close in on a win. Buttler could have done real damage late in the innings and he was looking well set. Tripathi, the man who many think should be opening the batting, walks out when the chase looks pretty improbable.
After 10 overs, RR 77/3 - need 128 runs from 10 overs
This is a nice little phase admittedly for RR. Stokes beginning to find his feet, pulling Watson and driving Tahir well, getting a couple of boundaries to his name. These two are more than capable of launching an assault in the final 10 - but they have to get going now.
After 8 overs, RR 57/3:
Deepak Chahar finishes off his four-over spell in one go and he almost had the wicket of Ben Stokes as well! An inswinging yorker beats Stokes all ends up and he is lucky that didn’t hit anything on the way. Rayudu had a moment of scare in that over, seemingly hit on his knee while fielding. He walks off the pitch, then changes his mind. CSK have averaged an injury every game.
It’s time for Tahir from the other end. Buttler decides it’s time to make a move! Two boundaries straight down the ground - one for four, one all the way for six. Great use of the feet. 14-run over and Royals need many more of that.
After 6 overs, RR 35/3 - end of powerplay
Watson comes on to bowl the third over and what an over that is! Just one run as Buttler is targetted wide outside his offstump. Oh dear, this run-chase has as much chance of a success as Loki did against the Avengers in the first movie. (Yes, we are already thinking about Infinity War)
After 5 overs, RR 34/3 - Rahane gone!
IS that the match over already? Royals’ two best batsmen (on form) are back in the pavilion and the powerplay is not even done yet. Chahar cleans up Rahane with a clever knuckle-ball. The opener was charging down the track, played his hand too early and his deceived by the pace.
After 4 overs, RR 31/2:
This run-chase is not exactly going anywhere for Royals. This Stokes-Rahane partnership is massive, if they are to get anywhere close. Just six from Shardul’s second over.
After 3 overs, RR 25/2:
The dangerous Sanju Samson falls for that half-hearted pull shot again. Good captaincy this to target that area. Samson departs for just two and Chennai are on top. Karn Sharma takes a neat catch in the deep and Chahar strikes.
After 2 overs, RR 20/1
Unlike Watson, Klaasen doesn’t make most of his first-over reprieve. A good first over from Shardul Thakur, who breaches the South African’s defence. The stumps are shattered and CSK draw first blood. Samson comes to the crease and survives a close leg-before shout.
After 1 over, RR 14/0 - almost a carbon-copy over to start RR’s innings
Start with an extra? Check. Catch dropped at slip? Check. A couple of boundaries? Check.
Chahar does a Binny to start off, and he really should have a wicket to his name. Klaasen edges an away-swinger to slips, Watson puts it down. Returning favours eh, Watto? Rahane, after almost chopping one on to his stumps, steps down and lofts it straight down the ground for six. Ends the over with a french cut for four.
09:53 pm: Alright then, time for the run-chase. CSK defending a score (a good one at that) for the first time. Deepak Chahar with the ball, Rahane has walked out with Klaasen, the South African.
After 20 overs, CSK 204/5 - Innings break
Watson’s innings ends of the penultimate ball, edging one to Buttler off Laughlin. CSK’s innings ends with, fittingly, a mistake by RR. Bravo and Jadeja try and steal a two of the final delivery, Laughlin fails to collect the throw. A solid effort by CSK at their new home and the star of the show is Shane Watson! Apart from Gopal and Laughlin, it was a forgettable day for the Royals bowlers.
But boy, was that dropped catch costly.
After 19 overs, CSK 196/4
It seemed like turning into a decent over for Ben Stokes, despite starting with a one-handed heave by Bravo four four. But the last ball was once again sent to the fence by Bravo. Not been Ben Stokes’ night... 39/0 after 4 overs.
After 18 overs, CSK 184/4 - 200 is well on the cards
Bravo gets a boundary, allowing Watson to soak in the applause from the other end. He is also dropped by Samson at point, who timed his jump well but couldn’t hang on.
Dropped catches are hurting RR big time, it must be said.
After 17.2 overs, CSK 177/4 - century for Watto!
What an innings. A day after one former RCB man hit a century, it’s the turn of another. Well, it has come against one of his former franchises as well.
After 16 overs, CSK 165/4:
Sam Billings holes out to Ben Stokes in the deep for just three and Gopal picks up his third wicket. What is with leg-spinners and taking wickets of rank short balls, we will never know!
What a spell this has turned out to be for Gopal. 3/20 from his overs, with the scoring rate staying above 10 throughout pretty much.
After 15 overs, CSK 161/3:
Watson into the 90s. 8 runs from Unadkat’s over, that started with a boundary. So not a bad comeback by the left-arm pacer
After 14 overs, CSK 153/3 - no Dhoni magic today
The crowd is silenced as Gowtham takes a well-judged catch at long on, palming it upwards before taking it on the second attempt. Gopal takes his second and Dhoni departs for five.
Sam Billings joins Watson in the middle...
After 13 overs, CSK 150/2
Hat-trick of 4s from Watson off Stuart Binny in the over. He has now moved to 83 from just 40 balls. CSK’s 150 comes up with Dhoni getting his first boundary.
After 12 overs, CSK 131/2:
Gowtham takes a stunning catch running in from deep mid-wicket! Raina exits after yet another entertaining knock. Dhoni comes to the crease.
Raina c Gowtham b Gopal 46 (29)
After 10 overs, CSK 107/1
This is perhaps the dream start Dhoni would have had in mind once he lost the toss. Unadkat returns for his second over and Raina scores a couple of boundaries off the final two balls, getting into his groove now. 100 up for CSK, as well as the 50-run partnership.
That dropped catch by Tripathi in the first over... game-changing?
After 9 overs, CSK 97/1 - FIFTY FOR WATSON:
Those two overs were the calm before the storm! Gowtham should have made sure Raina is gone off the very first ball, but a poor throw off his own bowling sees Raina get a lifeline. He was nowhere close to reaching the crease on time. Watson then reaches his 50 and more with a SIX-FOUR-SIX! Brutal.
After 8 overs, CSK 78/1
Shreyas Gopal comes into the attack and concedes just four runs with his wrist spin. Raina and Watson just settling down after that powerplay. Could go big again, anytime now.
After 7 overs, CSK 74/1
Gowtham comes back for his second over and Raina, Watson just played it out steady. Five runs off it.
Looks like there were words exchanged between Stokes and Watson during the timeout. Two fiery characters going at each other...
After 6 overs, CSK 69/1 - a great powerplay for Chennai!
“Must be his birthday,” says Danny Morrison on air as Ben Stokes gifts the CSK batsman three juicy half volleys to put away. Raina obliges. First one is lofted over cover while clearing his front leg and the next two are on Raina’s pads as he flicks them fine. The over ends with a fourth boundary on the trot - a clever late cut past third man.
After 5 overs, CSK 53/1:
The first good over for RR tonight as the fifth bowler to be used in the first five overs provides the first breakthrough. Laughlin is the man for Royals, as Rayudu hangs his bat outside offstump and a thin edge goes to Jos Buttler, who makes no mistake. Raina walks out to huge cheers.
After 4 overs, CSK 48/0:
Another good over in the powerplay for CSK and it’s Ben Stokes who gets hit for a couple of boundaries. One by Rayudu off the first ball (pulled to fine leg) and one by Watson off the last ball (flicked to fine leg). Royals need a wicket and quickly at that.
After 3 overs, CSK 37/0:
That dropped catch by Tripathi is looking mighty expensive! Unadkat, with all the weight of his price tag, bowls four dot balls in his first over but it doesn’t mean much when the other two balls are hit out of the park. Watson doing all the early damage here.
After 2 overs, CSK 25/0
K Gowtham from the other end with his off-breaks. Watson hits the first maximum of the night, lofting Gowtham over long off. And is that another catch dropped? Well, that would be very, very harsh. Watson cuts Gowtham, Tripathi puts in a full length dive and gets to the ball, but can’t hold on. Wonderful effort.
After 1 over, CSK 14/0 - what an eventful over!
Not the most auspicious starts for Binny as he oversteps first ball, Watson treats the free-hit with disdain. A baseball hit straight back for 4. The next ball is hit through the covers for another boundary. Binny, though, gets a good shape going early on and gets Watson to edge one to the first slip where Tripathi puts down a sitter. Rayudu finishes the over with a four over cover.
08:00 pm: Shane Watson against RR. Stuart Binny with the new ball. We are all set in Pune...
07:55 pm: For Rajasthan, a long-standing winning record at home came to an end in their previous match and they make changes to their XI for the first time this year. Jofra Archer still not getting a game for now, but we’ll be seeing Stuary Binny in action! And watch out for Heinrich Klaassen. Remember his innings against India earlier this year?
07:50 pm: As has been pointed out by quite a few analysts, CSK have a problem with their middle order and with Raina returning, the focus will be on whether the lineup can click. There have been some fantastic individual performances from the men in yellow, but the batting order as a whole is still a work in progress.
07:40 pm: Some interesting #narratives to keep track of tonight. Ben Stokes is back in Pune, but playing for RR. Shane Watson is playing against the team that made him a IPL superstar in RR. And Rahul Tripathi could be opening in the ground (as D’Arcy Short doesn’t feature) where he made a name for himself with RPS.
07:32 pm: RR win the toss and (Surprise, surprise) Rahane opts to chase. And yes, MSD is fit enough. ‘I can tell you more in 3.5 hours time,’ says Dhoni about his back with a cheeky smile. Raina is fit enough to play as well. Team news coming up...
07:25 pm: An interesting breakdown of numbers here...
07:20 pm: Michael Vaughn reckons the pitch won’t be too much of a issue for CSK in terms of adapting their game.
While we wait for the toss, here’s Praveen Sudevan on what was a boss-level innings by Chris Gayle in Mohali last night.
07:10 pm: Chennai Super Kings on Thursday flagged off a special train called “Whistle Podu Express” with 14 coaches carrying about a thousand of their fans from Chennai to Pune for their match against Rajasthan Royals on Friday.
The fans’ expenses including the “train fare, food, accommodation, local transportation, match tickets and jersey” was borne by the team management.
Read more here:
07:00 pm: Hello all and welcome to the live blog of the match between Chennai Super Kings and Rajasthan Royals in Chennai’s new home for the season - Pune. This is the battle of the returning teams and given how closely fought the opening few matches of this season has been, this promises to be a cracker.