Rajasthan Royals continued their impressive march in IPL 8 . This time they thrashed Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets. It was a superb return by Royals skipper Shane Watson . Watson and Ajinkya Rahane hit strokeful fifties and shared a brilliant partnership to help the team register its fifth straight win in this season of the IPL
Chasing 157 for a win at their adopted home ground at Motera, RR rode on a 144-run record opening stand between skipper Watson (73 off 47 balls) and Rahane (76 not out) to canter home in 18.2 overs and hand CSK their first loss in this edition. The previous best opening partnership for RR was the 135-run stand between Graeme Smith and Naman Ojha in Durban, South Africa in 2009.
After taking stock of the slow-paced wicket in the first 6 overs, Watson cut loose before the strategic time-out to punish the CSK bowlers at will. Proving what an impact player he is. And how strong the Royals will be if he delivers at the top. Making his first IPL appearance this season, Watson, who took over the reins from stand-in-skipper Steven Smith, hit 6 fours and 4 sixes to provide perfect entertainment to the large crowd. Watson had an able partner in Rahane, who smashed his second fifty of the season, matched Watson stroke by stroke to accumulate 231 runs in five appearances and get the Orange Cap, for being the leading run-scorer, on his head.
Watson was finally done in by a yorker from Ravindra Jadeja as the left-arm spinner got a consolation wicket in the 17th over. But the dame was already done . CSK delayed the inevitable by getting another wicket as Smith (6) gave a simple caught and bowled chance to Dwayne Bravo in the 19th over. Karun Nair (1 not out) walked in to hit the winning runs as Rahane savoured the victory at the non-strikers end with his 55-ball stay laced with 6 fours and 2 sixes.
Earlier electing to bat in hot and testing conditions, CSK lost early wickets, but skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (31 not out) and Bravo, in his 36-ball knock, stitched an unbeaten 91-run fifth wicket partnership to lift the team to 156 for four in 20 overs.Bravo, who brought up first fifty of the season in just 29 balls, smashed 8 fours and a six while Dhoni played the sheet anchors role but was a tad slow in his 37-ball stay.
Dwayne Smith also struck a 29-ball 40 to give the much-needed boost after CSK were in trouble at 39 for three. Looking to make full use of the powerplays in the first six overs, CSK opener Brendon McCullum (12) fell to leg-spinner Pravin Tambe (1-36) after he mistimed a pull to James Faulkner at mid-on. Suresh Raina (4) was the next to go as Chris Morris (1-19) got the left-hander caught behind in the sixth over.
Young left-arm spinner Ankit Sharma (1-26), who opened the bowling for the Shane Watson-led side, then got Faf du Plessis back in the dug out to reduce CSK to 39 for three. But just when it looked that Smith, whose innings was laced with 3 fours and 2 sixes, will bail the visitors out of trouble with his big and powerful hitting, RR medium-pacer Faulkner (1-26) got the burly West Indian clean bowled just after the strategic time out post the ninth over.
But Faulkner and company bowled a decent line and length during the course of the 20 overs and South African medium-pacer Morris summed up the team’s bowling in the final 6 deliveries, allowing the opposition batsmen only 7 runs. It was a commanding all- rounder performance by the Royals and they deserve the top spot in IPL 8.