Rajasthan Royals entered the game against the Chennai Super Kings looking to continue on the winning path, but it was not to be. In our chase of CSK’s 188, we fell short by 45 runs. Halfway through the game, it looked like the Royals bowling unit had done a decent job, given that an even bigger total was chased down at the Wankhede a day before. But the conditions turned out to be different and the opposition’s spinners turned the game their way.

While we were looking for our second win on the trot, captain Sanju Samson struck a hattrick at the toss. After Sunday’s game at the venue, losing captain KL Rahul of Punjab Kings reiterated the big advantage for teams batting second enjoy in Mumbai. And batting second is what our captain chose indeed.

Both the teams came into this game having won their previous match and both were unchanged.

Jaydev Unadkat, who had taken three wickets within the Powerplay against Delhi Capitals, took the new ball for the Royals again and created a wicket-taking opportunity off the very first delivery of the innings. Rituraj Gaikwad edged the ball towards slip, but Tewatia could not take the tough chance. Unfortunately for JD, the ball found its way to the boundary. That clearly didn’t rattle the pacer, as he gave away only a single after that in the first over. Young quick, Chetan Sakariya came in from the other end for the second. He let the CSK openers score only three of his first five balls, four of which were bowled at a good length, before Faf du Plessis took a shorter one for six.

Mustafizur Rehman was brought in the fourth and straightaway got the batters itchy with his slow inswingers. Du Plessis and Gaikwad took two risky singles and the latter survived a run out chance. But his second life was short-lived as he ended up slicing Mustafizur’s fifth delivery in the air, only to find Shivam Dube at mid-off. Du Plessis turned the tables in the next over, taking Unadkat for 19. Three 4s and a 6 came off the over. Respite came for the Royals quick enough, in the very next over. Chris Morris, who has an impressive record with the bowl against the Super Kings, forced his countryman to chase a short-wide delivery and slice it to the fielder at deep-point. CSK’s score stood at 46-2 at the end of their powerplay.

Fizz mixed his lengths in his second over and ended up giving 13. Moeen Ali took over from where du Plessis had left, hitting a four and six apiece against Rahman and then another maximum off Morris the next over. But then, his fate followed Faf’s and he too got caught in the deep. Rahul Tewatia got his first wicket of the season, bowling the first over of spin for the evening. Now CSK had two very good players of spin at the crease in Suresh Raina and Ambati Rayudu and they came down heavily on Tewatia and Riyan Parag, scoring 30 of two overs against the duo. Captain Samson smartly brought back pace and Sakariya removed both the experienced batters in the 14th over. 

With two new batters at the crease, Samson saw the opportunity and threw the ball to Tewatia again, who delivered with a miserly over of 2 runs. As soon as MS Dhoni started to find runs, the Royals did what they have been doing well all night - got the batter out before he could settle down. Young Chetan Sakariya had an impressive outing again, picking up three wickets from his quota once more. Morris got Ravindra Jadeja to edge one to the keeper in the 19th, but also leaked three boundaries. The last over of the first innings was a comedy of errors. Both the sides exhibited scenes of confusion in the middle, after Mustafizur had got Sam Curran out on the first ball. The batters trying to steal a double and the direct hit getting deflected, a missed run out chance, a ball hit in the air landing between two fielders, another run out chance, bat flying in the air, both the batsmen ending up on the same end and finally managing to get run out.

The last ball though was smoked for a six by Dwayne Bravo and Chennai Super Kings ended their innings on 188/9. 

The Rajasthan Royals innings started in the same fashion as our opponent’s - with a boundary - Jos Buttler punching a full one from Deepak Chahar, who had ripped apart the Punjab Kings lineup a few nights ago. Manan Vohra also played a stylish shot in the over to get a four. The first over got us 11 runs. Sam Curran bowled a good second over for CSK, giving only three runs and almost picking up the wicket of Buttler, whose chance was missed by Shardul Thakur within the circle. When Curran came back to bowl his second, Vohra pulled him on back-to-back deliveries. The first went for a maximum, the second found the fielder.

While Buttler kept his charge going against Chahar from one end, the other end had another batter falling to Curran. This time it was Samson, who just couldn’t get going, and was caught by Bravo at mid-on. At the six over marks in our chase, the Royals were at 45/2.

A tidy over from Thakur was followed by a scoring one from Jadeja, with 11 coming off it. Our batters followed it with scoring 10-runs off Thakur’s next and Jadeja ruined his second by bowling a front foot no ball, which Jos smacked for a six. Bravo came in after the halfway mark and kept bowling wide outside off to Dube to restrict his scoring chances, giving a couple of wides in the process.

Dhoni continued with Jadeja and he got Buttler bowled on an agonising 49. Jos was looking fluent and his wicket put the Royals in trouble as the required rate crossed 12. The left-arm offie also removed Shivam Dube, who unsuccessfully reviewed the on-field umpire’s decision of giving him out LBW. We needed David Miller to play another match-winning knock, but he too was trapped in front of the stumps, trying to sweep Moeen Ali in the next over. Ali picked two more in the 15th. Riyan Parag was caught at deep midwicket on his slog sweep and so was our hero from the last game, Chris Morris.

The two off-spinners took the game away from us by restricting runs and picking wicket after wicket. We were left requiring 92 from the last five overs. Jaydev Unadkat decided to have some fun and scored a four and a six off Curran in the 18th. Tewatia too joined in and hit consecutive sixes off Bravo in the next. The first of the two was a gift from the substitute fielder Krishnappa Gowtham, who didn’t make an effort to throw the ball in before stepping beyond the midwicket boundary. Unadkat had a few good hits in the middle, picking up an innovative six and a couple of boundaries. However, Bravo finally got him caught a couple of balls later. To finish the formalities, Thakur bowled the 20th and picked Unadkat’s wicket.

Chasing 188, we only managed to reach 143. The dew didn’t come in as expected and the CSK spinners got turn, making batting in the second innings a tricky task. What also helped them were the sixes that went into the stands. The new balls that came out were dry and gripped off the surface. Jadeja and Ali made the most of the opportunity and the required rate kept getting steeper.

It is a big loss for us but as Sanju Samson mentioned in the post match interview - there were plenty of positives too. Chetan Sakariya picking up big wickets again being one of them. To quote the captain - “It’s always good to look at the positives and move on.” It’s just the beginning of the season and we only have to learn from the misses in this game so we can get better in the coming matches. We play RCB next, on 22nd April at the Wankhede.