Jos Buttler anchored a tricky chase to perfection as Rajasthan Royals beat Chennai Super Kings by four wickets in a thrilling encounter to keep their play-off hopes alive in the Indian Premier League at Jaipur on Friday.
Chasing a target of 177, Buttler struck his fourth successive half-century, a 60 ball 95 studded with 11 fours and two sixes as Rajasthan reached the target will a ball to spare. They now have 10 points from 11 games.
CSK on the other hand, couldn’t clinch their play-off berth and MS Dhoni’s frustration at his bowlers faltering at the death was once again evident. Needing 12 off the last over, Buttler smacked Dwayne Bravo’s fourth delivery over mid-wicket for a six and then scampered home for a double to finish the match.
Having scored 50 off 26 balls, Buttler did struggle in the middle overs but kept going and took the game deep before finishing off in style. The two sixes hit by Krishnappa Gowtham off David Willey in the penultimate over also helped the home side.
Buttler’s blazing blade created a lot of damage in the initial overs as he hit a flurry of boundaries and sixes. He started with three boundaries off countryman Willey’s over.
There was a six over long-off Harbhajan Singh along with a backfoot punch through mid-wicket. Ben Stokes (11) at the other end was looking to end the struggle in his role as an opener before he was bowled middle-stump trying to give Harbhajan the charge.
Skipper Ajinkya Rahane (4) was foxed by Ravindra Jadeja and the catch was taken at slip by Suresh Raina after it bounced off Dhoni’s gloves. But after the first four overs when CSK conceded 48 runs, and it was Dhoni who made some good bowling changes in his bid to slow the pace of the game.
It worked as in the next seven overs, only 51 runs were scored. Jadeja (1/28 in 4 overs) did impressed along with the ever-improving Shardul Thakur (1/22 in 4 overs) and Dwayne Bravo, as Buttler failed to maintain the momentum after the initial overs.
Sanju Samson (21) was run-out after a horrible mix-up while debutant Prashant Chopra (8) hit a couple of boundaries before failing to pick a slower from Shardul. Shardul bowled a total of 14 dot balls in his spell.
Earlier, Raina struck his 34th half-century as Chennai posted a competitive 176/4. Chennai’s most consistent performer over the years, Raina struck 52 off 35 balls with the help of six boundaries and a six, adding 86 runs for the second wicket with veteran Shane Watson (39 off 31 balls).
The duo provided the platform for skipper Dhoni to launch a final assault, smashing 33 off 23 balls in company of Sam Billings (27 off 22 balls). The duo added 55 runs in 6.4 overs to take the team’s total past 175-run mark.
For Royals, Jofra Archer (2/42 in 4 overs) was the most successful bowler even though he was carted for runs towards the end. Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi (1/29 in 4 overs) was impressive once again. The Kiwi got Raina with a googly, which the southpaw tried to slog sweep against the turn.
Chennai’s top run-getter Ambati Rayudu (12) started off with a couple of boundaries before being played on to a delivery that was kicking up from back of the length. However Raina batted in his inimitable style along with Watson as they scored runs at a comfortable pace.
Raina started by clipping Archer off his pads to the square leg boundary. In the same over, he got his second boundary with a square drive. In the next over, he got a couple of more boundaries with a cut and a cover drive off Krishnappa Gowtham. The fifth boundary was a short arm pull over mid-wicket off Ben Stokes.
With the powerplay overs yielding 55 runs, there was a period when Chennai didn’t get a boundary for 21 balls before Ish Sodhi’s over (ninth of the innings) helped the duo break the shackles. However, it was Butter’s day. Both teams remain unmoved in the table. The two-time champions are at second while Rajasthan are at sixth, level on points with Mumbai Indians.