23th April 2014
It was a bowlers' day out today at Dubai International Cricket Stadium as Chennai Super Kings carved out a seven-run win against Rajasthan Royals on a slow Dubai pitch.
Captain Shane Watson won the toss and elected to field first. Given that RR has an excellent chasing record, it was an obvious choice. Tim Southee replaced Kane Richardson for RR while Team CSK looked confident coming from the 93-run victory against DD, as they entered today's match with the unchanged playing 11.
On a pitch that wasn't batsmen friendly as it looked at the start of the game, Team RR's bowlers did their job very well wrapping up CSK for 140/6 in their 20 overs.
It was a very slow start for CSK scoring just 32 runs from first 5 overs. Faulkner picked up Brendon McCullum (who was mis-hitting a number of deliveries) but he also gave away 19 runs in the same over to Smith who, at the other end, kept scoring runs at a faster pace. Only commendable score for CSK was by their opener Dwayne Smith who made 50 before getting out to Stuart Binny caught at mid-off by Watson.
While the runs came steadily, Team CSK lost their core batting line-up - Smith, Raina, du Plessis and Dhoni - in the 8th, 9th, 11th and the 12th over respectively. Jadeja picked up the team's scorecard by playing the game smartly. He avoided big shots and scored singles and doubles, rotating strike.
The canny Rajat Bhatia, who later joked he was probably bowling "slower than the pitch", served up his most economical spell in the IPL of 4-0-13-2 - all 13 of them in singles. Was it not for a fighting 36 from Jadeja, Super Kings would have had to settle for a much lower total than what they eventually got.
While RR had done a great job with the ball, CSK were simply better than RR at every stage. Openers Nayar and Rahane had just started to score well when confusion in the second over cost them an unfortunate wicket of Nayar as he was run-out by wicket-keeper McCullum. And what came after that was just a repetition! Rahane in the 6th over hit the ball high up in the air only to land in Manhas' hands in the deep.
Then came Jadeja in the 7th over; he removed Watson and Samson in back-to-back deliveries adding to misery of RR's batting.
Two very similar players came out in the middle for Royals. Smith and Binny have always liked to build their innings with a few singles and then set up for the big ones. The chase went well until Binny played a very bad shot off M Sharma giving away a simply catch to du Plessis at long-off. Faulkner and Southee were RR's last hopes but they too failed to rise the occasion. Rajat Bhatia tried a few good shots but wasn't able to take his team to victory. RR needed 25 from the last to win the match with 1 wicket in hand. Dhawal Kulkarni & Pravin Tambe were on the pitch. Kulkarni hit 2 SIXES and flicked for a couple bringing down the target to 9 runs from 2 balls. Kularni hit the full toss ball to long-on aiming to score two, but Tambe camped at the strikers end leading to a run-out and that ended the game.
CSK bowlers did not give batsmen any opportunity to hit big shots while the fielders ensured that they did not leak away any runs. R Jadeja was their man of honour as he picked up 4 big wickets - Watson, Samson, Smith and Southee - making sure that CSK wins the match even after posting a low score.
The only highest partnership in today's match was between R Ashwin and R Jadeja for 39* runs which helped CSK reach from 6/101 (14.5) to 6/140 (20.0).
Back-to-back losses puts Team RR in the back-seat of IPL 2014 and they will have to come up with a new approach if they want to survive in the competition.
Do you think batting first would have helped Team RR win this match?