CSK fall short in a final over thriller
Jos Butler scored an unbeaten 95 to keep his side’s playoffs hope alive. Rajasthan won their must win game by four wickets with a ball to spare. CSK will have to win two out of their last three games to enter the playoffs without any hiccups.
For the first time in this IPL, MS Dhoni elected to bat first after winning the toss. Chennai roped in Sam Billings and Karn Sharma in place of Ngidi and Shorey. Rajasthan Royals, who flaunted a pink jersey to promote the “Cancer Out” campaign, handed a debut to uncapped Prashanth Chopra. The home side started on a positive note by picking up the most consistent batsmen for CSK, AmbatiRayudu, quite cheaply for 12 runs. The Hyderabad batsman used his feet nicely to the spinners but failed to do so against Jofra Archer, ended up chopping one on to the stumps. Raina joined Watson in the middle and played the aggressor’s role in the partnership with quick singles and well executed boundaries. At the end of the powerplay, Chennai put on 55 runs on the board for the loss of just one wicket.
Raina continued playing his shots and in the process became the first player in the history of IPL to score 300+ runs in all 11 editions of the competition. Watson was not at his fluent best as he played second fiddle to Raina for majority of the partnership, he ended up top edging Archer’s short ball to Jos Butler. The Aussie scored a run-a-ball 39 contributing to the 86 run stand for the second wicket. It was also Archer’s first wicket in the middle overs, all his other wickets came either in the powerplay or in the death overs. Raina(52 off 35) failed to convert his fifty into a match winning knock by getting out to IshSodhi’s wrong-un. Rajasthan pulled things back nicely by drying up the runs with both Dhoni and Billings fairly new to the crease. The pitch started to behave very slowly as both batsmen struggled to shift gears even at the death overs. At the end of the innings, CSK had 176 on the board for the loss of 4 wickets, which looked like an above par score, given the slowness of the strip.
With 177 needed to stay afloat in the competition, Rajasthan threw a surprise by opening the innings with two Englishmen, Ben Stokes and Jos Butler. David Willey was given the new ball to bowl at his countrymen. Butler gave an electric start for his team by picking up boundaries off the first three balls. However, the experiment to send Stokes at the top of the order did not fetch the desired result as he was bowled by Harbhajan for 11 runs. Jadeja accounted for Rahane’s dismissal with turn and bounce. Despite losing two wickets, Butler powered Rajasthan to 67 for 2 at the end of powerplay.
SanjuSamson(21 off 22) provided much needed support for Butler by rotating the strike sensibly, but was run-out after a horrible mix up in the middle. PrashantChopra(8 off 6) chipped one straight to Bravo. Binnypitched in with 22 runs off 17 balls while Gowtham smashed 13 runs off 4 balls. With 38 needed off 18 balls, CSK were in the driving seat. However, the hero of the match, Jos Butler won the game for his side with a spectacular knock of 95 that contained 11 fours and 2 sixes. This is his 4th consecutive fifty of the season as the wicket-keeper batsman continued his rich vein of form with another memorable match winning performance.
Raina’s fifty and Jadeja’s bowling are definite takeaways but the death bowling remains to be a problem for Chennai Super Kings. Bravo doesn’t seem to be as effective as he used to be at the death. Dhoni has been openly critical about his bowlers and will expect them to put their hand up and take more responsibility going forward. Shardul Thakur was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 2 for 22 in his quota of 4 overs.
What’s next for CSK?
Next up, it’s a top of the table clash between CSK and SRH. Arguably, it’s a match-up between the best bowling side and the best batting side of the tournament. There is a possibility of these two sides playing in the playoffs which will bring the mental game into picture. CSK will have a psychological edge over SRH, if they get their second win against them. If Deepak Chahar is deemed fit, he will find his spot in the XI in place of Shardul Thakur or Karn Sharma.