Chennai Super Kings vs Rajasthan Royals
Friday 20th April 2018

There was a surprise even before this match started – Jinks won the toss! It was a welcome change for the coin to fall right for the Royals, and without hesitation, the Rajasthan skipper asked opposing captain MS Dhoni to bat first. Last season 81% of captains chose to bowl first given the choice, and so far this tournament 94% have chosen to take the ball after winning the toss. 62% of matches have been won by teams batting second – hopefully Rajasthan were about to boost that stat!

The Royals leadership team decided to bring in Heinrich Klaasen to replace D’Arcy Short and Stuart Binny came in for Dhawal Kulkarni. Hopefully they would come into the team all guns firing.

Opening batsmen for CSK were former Royals favourite Shane Watson and Rayudu. Taking the new ball for Rajasthan was Stuart Binny – and he didn’t get off to a good start with a front foot no ball leading to a free hit for the tall Aussie. He cashed in - 4 runs straight down the ground. Next ball another 4. Watto was looking dangerous already and he’d only faced two legitimate deliveries! Ball 5 – edge! Straight to first slip… and straight down onto the deck. You really can’t afford to drop a batsman of Watson’s class and expect to get away with it. As the Royals were about to discover…

Gowtham bowled the second over and Watto dispatched the fifth ball for a mighty six. It was starting to look ominous as he enjoyed his second life. Actually make that his third life – another chance off his bat spilled – much more difficult than the first, diving full length, but a chance to remove the Aussie nevertheless. They say catches win matches… drops can lose them too. Hopefully that wouldn’t be the case here.

Third over, Unadkat. 12 off it in the form of four dots and two massive sixes from Watto. Next up Stokes. Rahane ringing the changes with four different bowlers taking on the first four overs. 13 off it and the Royals fans were starting to think it was their unlucky night. CSK off to a flier – 48 for 0 off the first four overs. Could Laughlin get a wicket? Yeeeees! Rayudu caught behind for 12. Perhaps things were looking up for Rahane’s Regiment?

Next in, Raina. Another danger man. However, a couple of wickets now and the Royals would be right back in it. Unfortunately the CSK pair had different ideas. Soon Raina was sending Stokes to the boundary four times in four balls. Not good. Could Gowtham settle things down in over 7? Just five off the bat – a worthy effort. Gopal next – hopefully he could keep up the good work. His over went for just four. The Royals spinners were showing the pacemen the way to go!

Over 9 was Gowtham again, but he couldn’t repeat the magic. It looked like Watto had “lined him up” now – 19 runs taken from the over, mostly flowing from our ex hero’s bat. Unadkat was summoned for the tenth over – perhaps this would be the moment he seized the day for the Royals. Sadly not. 10 runs and no wickets. CSK 107 for 1 after ten overs and Royal hearts starting to sink. Laughlin had got the only wicket so far and was brought on to add to it in over 11. It wasn’t to be - instead he went for 14 and Watson went onto 70 from 35 balls. He looked well set for his century.

Over 12, bowled by Gopal, delivered a wicket, Raina caught well by Gowtham for 46 in the deep. Oh, for catching like that early doors! Enter Mr Dhoni. The skipper’s sensible strategy

was to push singles to give Watto the strike – and it worked. Four fours scored by the Aussie off Stuart Binny’s next over, the bowler who deserved to snaffle him in the first over – how frustrated he must have felt!

Another catch in the deep removed Dhoni – caught Gowtham bowled by Gopal for 5. Gopal was the pick of the bowlers so far – and Gowtham definitely the pick of the fielders! Next in Englishman Sam Billings – clearly aware that he needed to play second fiddle to his Aussie team mate. Not for long though. The Royals revival continued with his dismissal for 3 – caught by Billings’ England team mate Ben Stokes. Three wickets for Gopal. Just 20 off his set of four overs. Excellent bowling.

Next in was Bravo, but all eyes were on Watson who was now striking the ball to all parts of the ground. His century came in the 18th over – from just 51 balls. A magnificent knock – just a shame it was in the wrong colours Watto! We still love you for everything you did for us though. What we don’t love is dropped catches – and Bravo was the next batsman to benefit from Royals profligacy. With CSK 184 for 4 off 18 overs a big total was on the cards. And so it transpired. A final total of 204 for 5 (Watto finally going in the last over for 106) was going to take some surpassing, even on a pitch as good as this.

To have any chance the Royals would need to get off to a flier. It was down to skipper Rahane and new boy Klaasen to deliver it. The omens weren’t looking good when the South African offered a chance to Watto at first slips early doors. It was spilled – maybe he would show his gratitude with a century like the Australian?

14 runs were scored off the first over thanks to some boundaries from Jinks. The chase was on! Or was it? Klaasen bowled for 7 by Thakur. Could Samson save the day? He’d certainly been in form in previous matches. More of the same please Sanju!

Oh no – it was not to be. Our mighty Samson caught in the deep for 3. Next in Ben Stokes – due a big innings for the Royals – this would be a great time to produce it. Before he could though skipper Rahane was bowled for 16 – attempting an uncharacteristic swipe across the line, scoreboard pressure clearly taking its toll.

Three big wickets down with just 32 on the tally. Buttler and Stokes simply had to build a big partnership right here, right now. They’d done it in England uniform – could they do it in Rajashan ensemble?

Both batsmen struggled to time the ball – perhaps trying to hit it too hard. Runs refused to flow off the bat and at the end of the 7th over the Royals were on just 43 for 3. Well behind the asking rate and the situation was growing desperate over by over. Some lusty blows by Jos and then by Ben started to improve the look of the scorecard, but 67 for 3 off 9 was still not good enough. Big overs were required to swing the momentum of the game, but instead the opposite happened, wickets started to tumble…

Buttler out for 22, bamboozled by Bravo – caught by Tahir. Tripathi out for 5 – caught by Billings, again off Bravo’s bowling. Stokes out for 45, caught by fellow countryman Billings in the deep off the bowling of Tahir. The Royals innings was petering out.

Soon Gowtham was gone for 1. Removed by Watson – what a night he was having. Binny was caught and bowled on 10 and the sad procession of Royals batsmen back to the shed continued. At least we were going down swinging! At 130 for 8 from 17 overs the match was as good as over. Unadkat and Gopal got some batting practice before Unadkat was bowled for 16 and Laughlin followed him in next ball for a golden duck. Rajasthan bowled out for 140 and defeated by 64 runs A bat night at the office

The only consolations were the bowling of Gopal and flickerings of form with the bat for Ben Stokes. The other good news is our next match is just a couple of days away so we don’t have to wait long before the chance to put things right. Go Royals!


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