By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
ABU DHABI: It’s all but over for Chennai Super Kings in the Dream11 Indian Premier League this season. The last year’s runners-up crashed to a disappointing seven-wicket defeat against Rajasthan Royals at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium on Monday. With yet another big defeat, the three-time champions’ campaign set for an early end in the 13th edition. CSK will have to win all their remaining four league matches by big margins to finish in the top-four for play-offs.
RR recorded a crucial win and lived to fight another day. They have jumped to the fifth spot with eight points to their credit. In the first leg on September 22, Rajasthan Royals had beaten CSK by 16 runs.
Chasing a modest target of 126, Rajasthan Royals romped home quite comfortably after early hiccups with seven wickets and 15 balls to spare. Jos Butler almost single-handedly took his side to the destination with a well-compiled 70 not out. The England wicketkeeper-batsman anchored the innings to perfection to foil the hopes of MS Dhoni and his men. The 30-year-old faced 48 balls and his match-winnings knock was laced with seven fours and a couple of sixes.
Butler, who came into bat at No. 5 position when his side was precariously placed, stitched together an unbeaten partnership of 98 runs for the fourth wicket with Steve Smith to bail out Rajasthan Royals. Smith, who remained unbeaten on 26 off 34 balls, provided vital support to Butler to ensure a much-needed win for his side.
At one stage, CSK looked like making a determined fight to defend their modest total by reducing the rivals to 28 for the loss of three wickets including Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson. However, Butler in the company of Smith thwarted Chennai’s hopes with a professional batting approach.
Deepak Chahar bowled superbly to take two early wickets but the rest of the CSK bowlers failed to make much of an impact against the experienced duo of Butler and Smith.
Earlier, Rajasthan Royals bowlers put up an inspired show to restrict Chennai Super Kings to a paltry score of 125 for 5. The total was given some respectability by Ravindra Jadeja, who hit an unbeaten 35 off 30 balls. The left-hander slammed four boundaries in the death overs to boost the total.
CSK captain MS Dhoni won the toss and decided to bat. However, his decision backfired as they were four down for 56 at the end of ten overs. Jofra Archer bowled fast and accurately and got rid of opener Faf du Plessis in the third over of the innings. Kartik Tyagi then sent Shane Watson packing to give CSK another blow inside the Powerplay.
Sam Curran and Ambati Rayudu took Chennai Super Kings past 50 but Shreyas Gopal foxed left-handed opener Curran to get Rajasthan Royals another wicket. Rayudu was dismissed by Rahul Tewatia to leave CSK in a pickle. Dhoni and Jadeja added crucial 51 runs for the fifth wicket but just when it seemed like they would tee off at the death, Dhoni got run out by a fraction of inches.
The CSK captain was playing his 200th IPL game and made a run-a-ball 28. While trying to run a second run off a mis-field he failed to beat the Archer throw.
On Tuesday, table toppers Delhi Capitals (14 points) will clash with Kings XI Punjab (6 points) at Dubai. Win will seal a play-off berth for Delhi Capitals. Kings XI Punjab after their historic Super Overs triumph against Mumbai Indians will certainly look to continue their fine run to stay in the contention. In the first round of the match, Delhi Capitals had edged out KXIP in Super Over.
Brief scores: Chennai Super Kings 125 for 5 in 20 overs (Ravindra Jadeja 35 not out, MS Dhoni 28, Sam Curran 22, Ambati Rayudu 13, Faf du Plessis 10; Shreyas Gopal 1-14, Rahul Tewatia 1-18, Jofra Archer 1-20, Kartik Tyagi 1-35) lost to Rajasthan Royals 126 for 3 in 17.3 overs (Jos Butler 70 not out, Steve Smith 26 not out, Ben Stokes 19; Deepak Chahar 2-18, Josh Hazlewood 1-19) by 7 wickets. Man-of-the-match: Jos Butler (RR).